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Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulation of Airflow through Standing Vegetation

Howell B. Gonzales, John Tatarko, Mark E. Casada, Ronaldo G. Maghirang, Lawrence J. Hagen, Charles J. Barden
Paper - American Society of Agricultural Engineers v.62 no.6 pp. 1713-1722
Triticum aestivum, air flow, canopy, computer simulation, mathematical models, vegetation cover, wheat, wind erosion, wind speed, wind tunnels
Maintaining vegetative cover on the soil surface is the most widely used method for control of soil loss by wind erosion. We numerically modeled airflow through artificial standing vegetation (i.e., simulated wheat plants) using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). A solver (simpleFoam within the OpenFOAM software architecture) was used to simulate airflow through various three-dimensional (3D) canopy structures in a wind tunnel, which were created using another open-source CAD geometry software (Salomé ver. 7.2). This study focused on two specific objectives: (1) model airflow through standing vegetation using CFD, and (2) compare the results of a previous wind tunnel study with various artificial vegetation configurations to the results of the CFD model. Wind speeds measured in the wind tunnel experiment differed slightly from the numerical simulation using CFD, especially near positions where simulated vegetation was present. Effective drag coefficients computed using wind profiles did not differ significantly (p <0.05) between the experimental and simulated results. Results of this study will provide information for research into other types of simulated stubble or sparse vegetation during wind erosion events.HighlightsMeasured airflow through a simulated canopy was successfully modeled using CFD software.Effective drag coefficients did not differ between the experimental and simulated results.Results of this study provide 3-D simulation data of wind flow through a plant canopy. Keywords: 3-D canopy structure, OpenFOAM, Wind erosion, Wind tunnel studies.