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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Reviews & Analyses

In Situ Soil Water Extraction: A Review


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 6, p. 1735-1748
    Received: May 2, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): l.weihermueller@fz-juelich.de
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  1. L. Weihermüller *a,
  2. J. Siemensb,
  3. M. Deurercd,
  4. S. Knoblauche,
  5. H. Ruppf,
  6. A. Göttleing and
  7. T. Pütza
  1. a Agrosphere Inst., ICG-4, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 52425 Jülich, Germany
    b Inst. of Soil Science, Berlin Univ. of Technology, Salzufer 12, 10587 Berlin, Germany
    c Inst. of Soil Sciences, University Hannover, Herrenhäuser Straße 2, 30419 Hannover, Germany
    d current address, HortResearch, Tennent Drive, Palmerston North, New Zealand
    e Thüringer Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft, Naumburger Strasse 98, 07743 Jena, Germany
    f The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research– UFZ, Department of Soil Physics, Lysimeter Branch, Dorfstrasse 55, 39615 Falkenberg, Germany
    g Fachgebiet Waldernährung und Wasserhaushalt, Technische Universität München, Am Hochanger 13, 85354 Freising, Germany


The knowledge of the composition and fluxes of vadose zone water is essential for a wide range of scientific and practical fields, including water-use management, pesticide registration, fate of xenobiotics, monitoring of disposal from mining and industries, nutrient management of agricultural and forest ecosystems, ecology, and environmental protection. Nowadays, water and solute flow can be monitored using either in situ methods or minimally invasive geophysical measurements. In situ information, however, is necessary to interpret most geophysical data sets and to determine the chemical composition of seepage water. Therefore, we present a comprehensive review of in situ soil water extraction methods to monitor solute concentration, solute transport, and to calculate mass balances in natural soils. We distinguished six different sampling devices: porous cups, porous plates, capillary wicks, pan lysimeters, resin boxes, and lysimeters. For each of the six sampling devices we discuss the basic principles, the advantages and disadvantages, and limits of data acquisition. We also give decision guidance for the selection of the appropriate sampling system. The choice of material is addressed in terms of potential contamination, filtering, and sorption of the target substances. The information provided in this review will support scientists and professionals in optimizing their experimental set-up for meeting their specific goals.

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Copyright © 2007. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America