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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH FOR IMPROVING ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND PRODUCER PROFITABILITY Title: A method for automating data collection from a double-ring infiltrometer under falling head conditions

Authors
item Arriaga, Francisco
item Kornecki, Ted
item Balkcom, Kipling
item Donoghue, Ann

Submitted to: Soil Use and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 2, 2009
Publication Date: March 1, 2010
Citation: Arriaga, F.J., Kornecki, T.S., Balkcom, K.S., Raper, R.L. 2010. A method for automating data collection from a double-ring infiltrometer under falling head conditions. Soil Use and Management. 26(1):61-67.

Interpretive Summary: Soil hydraulic properties are of extreme importance for understanding landscape processes and evaluating management strategies. Current field based methods to determine soil hydraulic properties are difficult to use and require significant labor. The design of a simple infiltrometer was modified to automatically collect data with a small computer. The proposed design was tested on four different soil types at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s soil bin facility located at the National Soil Dynamic Laboratory in Auburn, Ala. The four soils ranged from a loamy-sand to a clay, and presented a good range of conditions for this evaluation. Soils evaluated included Blanton loamy sand, Hiwassee sandy loam, Vaiden silty clay, and a Lloyd clay. In general, the Hiwassee sandy loam had the greatest infiltration capacity. This can be attributed to a high sand content and a relatively low bulk density. The tested infiltrometer design allows for multiple readings to be collected by a single user, while reducing operator error. Data collected with this approach can be used to estimate several important soil hydraulic properties. The proposed procedure is beneficial when multiple readings of soil hydraulic properties are required, such as when describing soil spatial variability.

Technical Abstract: Estimating soil hydraulic properties, such as infiltration and hydraulic conductivity of saturated soil, is of importance since it allows for a better understanding of important hydrological processes like rainfall and/or irrigation partitioning. Current field based infiltrometers are difficult to use and require significant labor input. A simple double-ring infiltrometer was modified for the automated collection of data. The proposed design was tested on four different soil types at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s soil bin facility located at the National Soil Dynamic Laboratory in Auburn, Ala. The four soils ranged from a loamy-sand to a clay, and presented different conditions for this evaluation. Soils evaluated included Blanton loamy sand, Hiwassee sandy loam, Vaiden silty clay, and a Lloyd clay. In general, the Hiwassee sandy loam had the greatest infiltration capacity. This can be attributed to a high sand content and a relatively low bulk density. The infiltrometer design presented allows for multiple readings to be collected by a single user, while reducing operator error. Data collected with this approach can be used to estimate quasi-steady state infiltration, cumulative infiltration, and in-situ hydraulic conductivity of saturated soil. The proposed procedure is beneficial when multiple readings of soil hydraulic properties are required, such as when characterizing soil spatial variability.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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