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Book: Field Soil Water Regime
Published by: Soil Science Society of America



  1.  p. 119-152
    SSSA Special Publication 5.
    Field Soil Water Regime

    R.R. Bruce (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-900-8


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Field Moisture Regimes and Morphology of Some Arid-Land Soils in New Mexico1

  1. Carlton H. Herbel and
  2. Leland H. Gile2


This paper relates soil moisture in an arid region of southern New Mexico to precipitation, soil morphology, landscape position, and runoff. Matric potential of soil water on arid rangeland was determined from 1960–1970 with gypsum electrical resistance blocks using an ohmmeter. Soil texture, landscape position, and microrelief had a significant effect on soil moisture. Soil water potential at the 25-cm depth was between 0 and −15 bars an average of 40 days in a fine Haplargid that did not receive run-in, and an average of 212 days in a coarse-loamy Paleargid. With run-in, the fine Haplargid had an average of 82 days when the soil water was between 0 and −15 bars. In another fine Haplargid, there was an average of 166 days when the soil water was between 0 and −15 bars at the 25-cm depth, and 204 days at the 60-cm depth. At this site the depth of water infiltration was considerably increased by small depressions and cracks leading into the soil. Where runoff is not a factor, moisture conditions most favorable for plants were found in areas with the following characteristics: (i) a level or nearly level landscape that is stable and shows little or no evidence of erosion, (ii) a thin, coarse-textured horizon at the surface for maximum infiltration of moisture, and (iii) a finer textured horizon and/or an indurated horizon at favorable depths to capture the moisture and prevent its movement to greater depths where it would be unavailable for plant use.

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Copyright © 1973. Copyright © 1973 by the Soil Science Society of America, Inc., 5585 Guilford Rd., Madison, WI 53711 USA