Estimating Soil Water Retention for Wide Ranges of Pressure Head and Bulk Density Based on a Fractional Bulk Density Concept


Huihui Sun, Jaehoon Lee, Xijuan Chen, Jie Zhuang


Soil water retention determines plant water availability and contaminant transport processes in the subsurface environment. However, it is usually difficult to measure soil water retention characteristics. in this study, an analytical model based on a fractional bulk density (fBD) concept was presented for estimating soil water retention curves. the concept allows partitioning of soil pore space according to the relative contribution of certain size fractions of particles to the change in total pore space. the input parameters of the model are particle size distribution (pSD), bulk density, and residual water content at water pressure head of 15,000 cm. The model was tested on 30 sets of water retention data obtained from various types of soils that cover wide ranges of soil texture from clay to sand and soil bulk density from 0.33 g/cm 3 to 1.65 g/cm 3. Results showed that the FBD model was effective for all soil textures and bulk densities. the estimation was more sensitive to the changes in soil bulk density and residual water content than pSD parameters. the proposed model provides an easy way to evaluate the impacts of soil bulk density on water conservation in soils that are manipulated by mechanical operation.

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Sun HH, Lee J, Chen XJ, Zhuang J. 2020. Estimating soil water retention for wide ranges of pressure head and bulk density based on a fractional bulk density concept. Scientific Reports 10.