Influence of water storage and plant crop factor on green roof retention and plant drought stress

Cheema, Muhammad Jehanzeb Masud and Soni, Lubaina and Szota, Christopher and Fletcher, Tim D. and Farrell, Claire (2022) Influence of water storage and plant crop factor on green roof retention and plant drought stress. PLOS Water, 1 (3). e0000009. ISSN 2767-3219

[thumbnail of journal.pwat.0000009.pdf] Text
journal.pwat.0000009.pdf - Published Version

Download (1MB)


Green roofs can reduce stormwater runoff with deeper substrates providing greater storage for water retention and evapotranspiration (ET) regenerating storage capacity between rainfall events. In green roof models, ET can be estimated using species-specific plant crop factors (Kc), which characterize water use under non-limiting conditions. We manipulated Kc by altering plant density in a glasshouse experiment under well-watered conditions. We determined Kc of green roof plants growing in pots with different substrate depths (150 mm and 300 mm) and plant densities (0, 1, 2 and 4 plants per pot). We then analyzed the influence of storage and Kc on retention and drought stress using a water-balance model, with a 30-year climate scenario for Melbourne, Australia. We hypothesized that greater planting density and substrate depth would result in proportionally greater ET and therefore higher Kc (glasshouse experiment) and that this would improve retention and reduce drought stress (rainfall simulation). Contrary to our hypotheses, cumulative ET increased by only 38–48% with increased substrate depth and by only 28–38% with increased plant density, despite large increases in plant biomass (67–150%) and growth. Kc values ranged from 1.9–2.2 and 2.7–3.8 for shallower and deeper substrates, respectively. Due to these very high crop factors, our water balance model showed very high annual rainfall retention (97.5%). However, higher Kc and storage only increased rainfall retention by 3–5% and resulted greater drought stress. Plants in deeper substrates experienced 14–29 more days of drought stress, as these plants depleted substrate moisture more efficiently (i.e., had a higher Kc) compared with shallow substrates. These findings suggest that improvements in rainfall retention for green roofs with deeper substrates or higher plant densities are small relative to the increased risk of plant drought stress. The lowest planting density was optimal for improving rainfall retention and reducing plant drought stress.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Depositing User: APLOS Library
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2022 12:38
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2022 12:38

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item