Reduction of irrigation is a pressing issue in the food-water-energy nexus. Around two-third of global water withdrawals are used for irrigation in the areas with insufficient rainfall. In the U.S. Central High Plains, the Ogallala Aquifer is responsible for providing water for the production of corn, wheat, soybeans, and cattle; reducing the evaporation of water from soil provides an excellent opportunity to decrease the need for irrigation. In this paper, evaporation of sessile 4-μl water droplets from a single simulated soil pore was observed. Soil pores were created using three 2.35-mm hydrophilic glass or hydrophobic Teflon beads of the same size. The experiments were conducted at the same temperature (20° C) and two relative humidity levels, 45% and 60% RH. Evaporation times were recorded and the transport phenomena were captured using a high-speed camera. Relative humidity directly affected evaporation; evaporation times were lower at the lower RH. The glass surface had higher wettability and therefore the droplets were more stretched on the glass beads, more droplet-air areas were created and evaporation times were approximately 30 minutes at 60% RH. The Teflon surface was hydrophobic, for which air-water contact areas were lower, and evaporation times were longer — approximately 40 minutes at 60% RH. As evaporation progressed, a liquid island formed between two beads at both 45% and 60% RH in for glass and Teflon pores. The rate of decrease of the radius of the liquid island was shorter in Teflon than glass beads, which corresponded to lower evaporation rates from Teflon.

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