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Integrated analysis of physical factors in semiarid continental soils

AuthorsÁlvarez, Ana María; Sastre, Salvador; Almendros Martín, Gonzalo ; Carral, Pilar
Issue Date1-Jul-2008
CitationIII Congresso Ibérico da Ciência do Solo ( CICS 2008) – Programa e Livro de Resumos
AbstractThe objectives of this research are manifold: i) to compare the curves of water infiltration in agricultural soils developed under Mediterranean climate (xeric regime) by taken advantage from the equation modified by Kostiakov (1932), ii) to relate the infiltration rates obtained with soil physical characteristics which could be considered as indicators of soil quality and iii) to assess the values of the c and b constants described in the curve in terms of the hydrophysical behaviour of semiarid agrosystems. The samples studied consisted of surface soil horizons of one undisturbed soil and eight agricultural soils. Soil infiltration parameters were measured in duplicate. The determinations were carried out in summer (July¿August) when all soils were under drought conditions, close to the point of permanent withering. We used a double-ring Eijkelkam¿s infiltrometer described in Bouwer (1986, D3385-03, ASTM), since this methodology yield reproducible results under similar climatic conditions. The infiltration curves represented the average values of water infiltration volume (mm) or the infiltration rate in terms of time. The above curves displayed variable features and showed very different infiltration rates in soil completely dry soils: there was an early stage with high infiltration rates (transition stage), which gradually decreased to a constant level (stationary stage ). The infiltration parameters showed the different drainage behaviour of the soils. Moreover, in the case of some soils showing total infiltration rates very similar, the parameters provided additional information on the different response against the effect of irrigation or torrential raining events. Kostiakov equation, K=c X-b (a) When c = 0, the rate K is zero. (b) When c = ∞, K = ∞. (c) When b = 0, K = c (the infiltration rate is constant and the soil never reaches the saturation moisture). (d) When b = ∞, K = 0. (e) When b → ∞, the infiltration rate decreased quickly to values close to zero as a function of time (the soil saturates quickly). (f) When b → 0, the infiltration rate does not tend to zero as quickly as in the above case, then soil takes some time to saturation. In conclusion, the parameters c and b define the type of curve, and consequently, the infiltration characteristics for each soil. According to the extent of both parameters we can forecast if soil saturation is slow or fast. This inform on whether the infiltration rate in the early stages are sufficient, or not, to ensure a good water regime system for the soil. In fact, under conditions of torrential rain, soils with high infiltration capacity can absorb large surplus of water in short periods, which reduces the risk of flooding and runoff.
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