Hydraulic gradient and wetting rate effects on the hydraulic conductivity of two calcium vertisols

Moutier, M.S.ainberg, I.L.vy, G.

Soil Science Society of America journal 64(4): 1211-1219


ISSN/ISBN: 0361-5995
DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2000.6441211x
Accession: 003466022

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Understanding the combined role of intrinsic (e.g., clay content) and extrinsic soil conditions in determining the saturated hydraulic conductivity (K) is a key factor in improving soil and irrigation management. Hydraulic gradient effects on K have been investigated on two Ca vertisols (Chromic Haploxerert) from Yizreel and Kedma, Israel. Samples were packed in columns and subjected to two prewetting rates (4.5 and 70 mm h-1) and two hydraulic gradients (2.8 and 11.6 for Yizreel; 3.1 and 13.6 for Kedma). Saturated K was determined during leaching with CaCl2 solutions having total electrolyte concentrations (TEC) of 0.5, 0.01 M Cl-, and deionized water (DW). The average hydraulic conductivity at the end of the leaching with the 0.5 M solution (K0.5) of the two vertisols increased with a decrease in prewetting rate. The effect of prewetting rate was more pronounced in Yizreel, where the high clay content (70.3% clay) resulted in a more stable structure. Upon leaching with the 0.01 M solution, Kr0.01 first decreased and then increased. This increase in Kr0.01 was explained by cohesive bond formation, which increased with an increase in soil clay content and with increased proximity between the clay particles. High hydraulic gradient enhanced clay to clay contacts, and a steep increase in Kr0.01. Following fast prewetting, the effect of the hydraulic gradient on cohesive bond formation was more pronounced in Yizreel than in Kedma (46.5% clay). Leaching with DW decreased the KrDW, regardless of the prewetting treatment or soil clay content, suggesting that swelling was the governing mechanism in the reduction of KrDW.