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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Simple Technique for Measuring Wetting Front Depths for Selected Soils

Authors
item Wells, Robert
item Romkens, Mathias
item Parlange, J.-Y. - CORNELL UNIVERSITY
item Dicarlo, David
item Steenhuis, T - CORNELL UNIVERSITY
item Prasad, Shyam - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 7, 2006
Publication Date: May 6, 2007
Citation: Wells, R.R., Romkens, M.J., Parlange, J., Dicarlo, D.A., Steenhuis, T.S., Prasad, S.N. 2007. A simple technique for measuring wetting front depths for selected soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal 71(3): 669-673.

Interpretive Summary: A low cost method to describe the position of the wetting front in a soil profile immediately after a rainstorm is described. Five different soils were used to determine the reliability and applicability of the method. The method had reasonably good success with clay, silt-clay, and sandy soils, but in the silt loam soils that were tested the method underestimated the position of the wetting front. The method was successful in describing discontinuous wetting fronts in clay soils.

Technical Abstract: A device, based on principles of cone penetrometry, was developed to characterize the depth of wetting immediately following a rainstorm event. Initially, five soils were tested under similar laboratory conditions to evaluate the method. The penetrometer provided accurate wetting descriptions in clay, silt-clay, and sandy soils, but in the silt soils tested, it underestimated the depth of wetting. The method was then applied to a swelling clay soil to characterize how the depth of wetting was affected by cracks formed in soil upon drying. The penetrometer was especially useful for detailed characterization in cases where the depth of wetting was highly variable.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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