The relationship of soil bulk density with the hydraulic behavior of soil and the role of macropores in preferential flow and transport has been extensively studied in literatures. Yet, the influence of soil structural heterogeneity as simultaneous variation of bulk density and macropore characteristics on soil hydraulic functions has rarely been studied. With the objective of studying the links between these parameters we quantified macropore characteristics of intact soil columns (19 cm diameter x 20 cm high) from two agricultural field sites (Silstrup and Faardrup) in Denmark using coarse resolution X-ray CT and linked them with laboratory measurements of air permeability and leaching experiment. In addition to macropore characteristics, we also quantified the CT-number of the matrix as a measure of the bulk density of the matrix, i.e., excluding macropores in the soil. Soils from the two field sites had similar texture (loam or sandy loam), yet the sand content was higher in Faardrup soils and clay and organic carbon content were higher in Silstrup soils. In general, Silstrup soil had more macropores (>1.2mm) than Faardrup soils but both the soils exhibited similar relationships between various macropore. In Silstrup soils, in which the macroporosity and matrix bulk density were well correlated, variation in air permeability and 5% tracer arrival time, a measure of preferential flow through soils, could be explained by macroporosity and the interconnectivity of macropores in soils. However, in Faardrup soils macroporosity and matrix bulk density were weakly correlated. Though macroporosity and interconnectivity of macropores could explain some variation in the hydraulic behavior of a few samples from Faardrup, the preferential flow behavior was observed to be primarily influenced by the matrix bulk density.
Water, Food, Energy & Innovation for a Sustainable World: Asa, Cssa & Sssa International Annual Meetings, 2013
Main Research Area:
ASA, CSSA, and SSSA 2013 International Annual Meetings