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SOIL MOISTURE 301
HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY
Leo Rivera
METER Group, Inc. USA
INTRODUCTION
ABOUT ME
Background in Soil Physics & Pedology
12 years of experience measuring and
interpreting soil hydraul...
ECOSYSTEM FLUXES
THE BIG PICTURE
GOALS
• What is hydraulic conductivity?
• What affects soil hydraulic conductivity?
• Hydraulic conductivity measurement
m...
HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY
WHY DO WE CARE ABOUT IT?
6
It impacts almost everything
soil is used for:
• Crop production
• Irrig...
WHAT IS HYDRAULIC
CONDUCTIVITY?
7
Hydraulic Conductivity:
A measure of the ability of a porous medium to transmit water
HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY
WHAT DETERMINES HYDRAULIC
CONDUCTIVITY?
8
• Soil texture
• Soil structure
• Biopores
• Compaction/b...
HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY
A POROUS MEDIUM CAN BE SATURATED
OR UNSATURATED
9
HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY
SATURATED
KsKs
Ks
Saturated hydraulic conductivity:
• All pores are contributing to fluxes
• Primar...
HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY
UNSATURATED
K(Ψ)
K(Ψ)
K(Ψ)
Unsaturated hydraulic conductivity:
• Varies depending on pore sizes, wh...
HOW CAN WE MEASURE
HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY?
MEASUREMENT METHODS
FIELD METHODS
Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity
SATURO
(DualHead)
Si...
MEASUREMENT METHODS
LAB METHODS
Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity
HYPROPKSAT Flow Cell F...
LAB VS FIELD
MEASUREMENTS
HOW DO THEY COMPARE?
Field measurements:
Complete soil interaction
Lab measurements:
Single-poin...
WHAT CAN HYDRAULIC
CONDUCTIVITY TELL US?
WHAT FACTORS LIMIT PLANT
WATER AVAILABILITY?
• Field Capacity
• Permanent Wilting Point
• What other factors limit plant
w...
WHAT FACTORS LIMIT PLANT
WATER AVAILABILITY?
Uniformly-Graded
Well-Graded
Gap-Graded
HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY
CAN IT AFFECT PLANT WATER
AVAILABILITY?
• Limits water redistribution
• Water potential near root-s...
Comparing the effects of landscape & land use on hydraulic
properties of the same soil type:
LAND USE AND LANDSCAPE
SOIL H...
LAND USE AND LANDSCAPE
SOIL HYDRAULIC
PROPERTIES
SOIL HEALTH INDICATORS
19 measurements are considered effective indicators of soil
health – Soil Health Institute
• Chemic...
RECAP
WHAT’S NEXT?
• Soil Moisture 101 – Basics of water content and water potential
• Soil Moisture 201 – A deeper look a...
SOIL MOISTURE 301
QUESTIONS?
Soil Moisture 301: Hydraulic Conductivity
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Soil Moisture 301: Hydraulic Conductivity

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Get the complete soil picture—Hydraulic conductivity impacts almost every soil application: crop production, irrigation, drainage, hydrology in both urban and native lands, landfill performance, stormwater system design, aquifer recharge, runoff during flooding, soil erosion, climate models, and even soil health.

In this 20-minute webinar, METER research scientist, Leo Rivera discusses how to better understand water movement through soil. Discover:

- Saturated and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity—What are they?
- Why you need to measure hydraulic conductivity
- Measurement methods for the lab and the field
- What hydraulic conductivity can tell you about the fate of water in your system.

Published in: Environment
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Soil Moisture 301: Hydraulic Conductivity

  1. 1. SOIL MOISTURE 301 HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY Leo Rivera METER Group, Inc. USA
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION ABOUT ME Background in Soil Physics & Pedology 12 years of experience measuring and interpreting soil hydraulic properties and soil moisture release curves
  3. 3. ECOSYSTEM FLUXES THE BIG PICTURE
  4. 4. GOALS • What is hydraulic conductivity? • What affects soil hydraulic conductivity? • Hydraulic conductivity measurement methods • Applications of hydraulic conductivity • How does this tie into soil health?
  5. 5. HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY WHY DO WE CARE ABOUT IT? 6 It impacts almost everything soil is used for: • Crop production • Irrigation and drainage • Hydrology (native and urban) • Storm water system design • Landfill performance • Soil health
  6. 6. WHAT IS HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY? 7 Hydraulic Conductivity: A measure of the ability of a porous medium to transmit water
  7. 7. HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY WHAT DETERMINES HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY? 8 • Soil texture • Soil structure • Biopores • Compaction/bulk density • Water content/potential
  8. 8. HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY A POROUS MEDIUM CAN BE SATURATED OR UNSATURATED 9
  9. 9. HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY SATURATED KsKs Ks Saturated hydraulic conductivity: • All pores are contributing to fluxes • Primarily driven by gravitational forces • Less common state of flow in soil Applications: • Runoff modeling • Groundwater flow • Green Infrastructure Assessment
  10. 10. HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY UNSATURATED K(Ψ) K(Ψ) K(Ψ) Unsaturated hydraulic conductivity: • Varies depending on pore sizes, which are able to contribute to water fluxes • Primarily driven by matric forces • Most common state of flow in soil Applications: • Vadose zone hydrology • Hyporheic exchange
  11. 11. HOW CAN WE MEASURE HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY?
  12. 12. MEASUREMENT METHODS FIELD METHODS Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity SATURO (DualHead) Single/Double Ring Borehole Tension
  13. 13. MEASUREMENT METHODS LAB METHODS Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity HYPROPKSAT Flow Cell Flow Cell w/ Tensiometers
  14. 14. LAB VS FIELD MEASUREMENTS HOW DO THEY COMPARE? Field measurements: Complete soil interaction Lab measurements: Single-point assessment
  15. 15. WHAT CAN HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY TELL US?
  16. 16. WHAT FACTORS LIMIT PLANT WATER AVAILABILITY? • Field Capacity • Permanent Wilting Point • What other factors limit plant water availability?
  17. 17. WHAT FACTORS LIMIT PLANT WATER AVAILABILITY? Uniformly-Graded Well-Graded Gap-Graded
  18. 18. HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY CAN IT AFFECT PLANT WATER AVAILABILITY? • Limits water redistribution • Water potential near root-soil interface can be much lower 1.00E-09 1.00E-08 1.00E-07 1.00E-06 1.00E-05 1.00E-04 1.00E-03 1 10 100 1000 K,cm/s Ψ, -kPa FSL SiL Potting Soil McCorkle
  19. 19. Comparing the effects of landscape & land use on hydraulic properties of the same soil type: LAND USE AND LANDSCAPE SOIL HYDRAULIC PROPERTIES Tall grass native prairie Improved pasture—grazed Conventional tillage (corn/corn/wheat)
  20. 20. LAND USE AND LANDSCAPE SOIL HYDRAULIC PROPERTIES
  21. 21. SOIL HEALTH INDICATORS 19 measurements are considered effective indicators of soil health – Soil Health Institute • Chemical indicators • Physical indicators • Biological indicators What does infiltration rate tell us? • Improved soil structure • Biopores from decaying root channels • Increased biological activity
  22. 22. RECAP WHAT’S NEXT? • Soil Moisture 101 – Basics of water content and water potential • Soil Moisture 201 – A deeper look at water potential • Soil Moisture 301 – A focus on measuring fluxes and hydraulic conductivity • How the measurements are made and how to make the best possible measurements
  23. 23. SOIL MOISTURE 301 QUESTIONS?

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