Impact of changes in land-use management on soil hydraulic properties: hydraulic conductivity, water repellency and water retention

Wahl, N.A.; Bens, O.; Schaefer, B.; Huettl, R.F.

Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 28(33-36): 1377-1387


ISSN/ISBN: 1474-7065
DOI: 10.1016/j.pce.2003.09.012
Accession: 019181657

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In the context of a more effective prevention of flooding events in watersheds, the influence of the management practice of forest transformation in forested areas on soil hydraulic properties and water capacity of the forest floor is presented and discussed. The respective investigations were carried out in forest stands differing in tree population mixture and stand structure in northeastern Germany. It was found that infiltration capacity and hydraulic conductivity K exhibit overall low values. This finding appears to be related to the predominating sandy texture as well as hydrophobic soil properties of the upper mineral soil. In the sandy soils of the investigated plots, the few existing macropores exhibit poor connectivity, and thus water infiltration ratios are low. During the different stages of forest transformation, the type and amount of soil organic matter and humus in the litter layer change. This change leads to a decrease of the water capacity of the litter layer and the mineral topsoil. Furthermore, these changes affect properties coinciding with water repellency. In this particular case it is concluded that for the approximate duration of one century the practice of forest transformation does not exhibit positive effects on water retention, while infiltration capacity remains unaffected.