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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #281799

Title: Technical Note: Orientation of cracks and hydrology in a shrink-swell soil

item DINKA, TAKELE - Texas A&M University
item Lascano, Robert

Submitted to: Trade Journal Publication
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/17/2012
Publication Date: 6/22/2012
Citation: Dinka, T.M., Lascano, R.J. 2012. Technical Note: Orientation of cracks and hydrology in a shrink-swell soil. Open Journal of Soil Science. 2(2):91-94.

Interpretive Summary: Soils that shrink while drying and swell while wetting can damage foundations, roads, utilities and septic tanks, and their management for agricultural production such as fertilizer use, crop selection, soil tillage, irrigation, and soil erosion is more problematic compared to other soils. These soils when wetted swell and when dried shrink leading to the formation of cracks and tools to quantify the geometry of these cracks for field applications such as hydrology are needed. In this work we conducted a field survey across two watersheds each with a different land use (grazed pasture and native prairie). The survey consisted of three transects and the number of cracks on each transect were recorded. Cracks were classified according to geometry. Our results showed that field surveys are a tool that can be used to quantify cracks along watersheds.

Technical Abstract: Crack orientations are an important soil physical property that affects water flow, particularly in vertic soils. However, the spatial and temporal variability of crack orientations across different land uses and gilgai features is not well-documented and addressed in hydrology models. Thus there is a need to quantify crack orientations for different land uses and to incorporate their spatial and temporal dynamics into hydrological models. Our objective was to document the spatial variability of cracks orientations across two land uses and to demonstrate the potential importance of crack orientation related to the hydrology of Vertisols. The exploratory field measurements of the spatial distribution of crack orientations across two Vertisol catenae of two land uses and gilgai features are presented. The field survey showed the complexity of crack geometry in a field, the potential impact of crack orientation on Vertisol hydrology and the challenges associated with measurement of crack orientations.