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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 hydraulic properties and
soil moisture release curves
ECOSYSTEM FLUXES
THE BIG PICTURE
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?
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
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/bulk density
• Water content/potential
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
• Primarily driven by gravitational forces
• Less common state of flow in soil
Applications:
• Runoff modeling
• Groundwater flow
• Green Infrastructure Assessment
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
HOW CAN WE MEASURE
HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY?
MEASUREMENT METHODS
FIELD METHODS
Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity
SATURO
(DualHead)
Single/Double Ring Borehole Tension
MEASUREMENT METHODS
LAB METHODS
Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity
HYPROPKSAT Flow Cell Flow Cell w/ Tensiometers
LAB VS FIELD
MEASUREMENTS
HOW DO THEY COMPARE?
Field measurements:
Complete soil interaction
Lab measurements:
Single-point assessment
WHAT CAN HYDRAULIC
CONDUCTIVITY TELL US?
WHAT FACTORS LIMIT PLANT
WATER AVAILABILITY?
• Field Capacity
• Permanent Wilting Point
• What other factors limit plant
water availability?
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-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
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)
LAND USE AND LANDSCAPE
SOIL HYDRAULIC
PROPERTIES
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
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
SOIL MOISTURE 301
QUESTIONS?

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Soil Moisture 301: Hydraulic Conductivity

  • 1.
  • 2. SOIL MOISTURE 301 HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY Leo Rivera METER Group, Inc. USA
  • 3. INTRODUCTION ABOUT ME Background in Soil Physics & Pedology 12 years of experience measuring and interpreting soil hydraulic properties and soil moisture release curves
  • 5. 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?
  • 6. 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
  • 7. WHAT IS HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY? 7 Hydraulic Conductivity: A measure of the ability of a porous medium to transmit water
  • 8. HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY WHAT DETERMINES HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY? 8 • Soil texture • Soil structure • Biopores • Compaction/bulk density • Water content/potential
  • 9. HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY A POROUS MEDIUM CAN BE SATURATED OR UNSATURATED 9
  • 10. 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
  • 11. 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
  • 12. HOW CAN WE MEASURE HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY?
  • 13. MEASUREMENT METHODS FIELD METHODS Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity SATURO (DualHead) Single/Double Ring Borehole Tension
  • 14. MEASUREMENT METHODS LAB METHODS Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity HYPROPKSAT Flow Cell Flow Cell w/ Tensiometers
  • 15. LAB VS FIELD MEASUREMENTS HOW DO THEY COMPARE? Field measurements: Complete soil interaction Lab measurements: Single-point assessment
  • 17. WHAT FACTORS LIMIT PLANT WATER AVAILABILITY? • Field Capacity • Permanent Wilting Point • What other factors limit plant water availability?
  • 18. WHAT FACTORS LIMIT PLANT WATER AVAILABILITY? Uniformly-Graded Well-Graded Gap-Graded
  • 19. 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
  • 20. 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)
  • 21. LAND USE AND LANDSCAPE SOIL HYDRAULIC PROPERTIES
  • 22. 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
  • 23. 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