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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 47 No. 3, p. 431-438
    Received: May 28, 1982



Leaching Characteristics of a Stony Desert Soil1

  1. David Russo2



The leaching characteristics of a stony desert soil were studied. The functional relationships between pressure potential head and gravimetric water content for the different soil layers were determined in the laboratory under drying conditions using samples in which the stony fractions (> 2 mm) were excluded. These gravimetric water content values were converted to field volumetric water contents, using the field-measured values of the field bulk density and the stone fraction (on a mass basis). For a given pressure potential head, volumetric water content decreased with depth. Unsaturated soil hydraulic conductivity functions for the different soil depths were determined by the transient drainage profile method, using tensiometers and the appropriate soil water characteristics functions. The saturated hydraulic conductivities were estimated from the steady-state infiltration rate and the appropriate hydraulic head gradients. Measured saturated hydraulic conductivity values decrease with soil depth while for a given pressure potential head, the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity increases with depth. A leaching experiment was conducted in the field, by operating a sprinkler system at a rate of 7.6 mm/h. The time variations of the electrical conductivity (EC) of the soil solution as well as the concentrations of Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Cl-, and SO2-4 were recorded by extracting soil solution samples from four soil suction probes located at a depth of 0.45 m and spaced 12 by 12 m apart. The initial average EC of 165 dS/m was reduced to 7.5 dS/m as 800 mm of water were applied to the soil. This final value of the EC of the soil solution is three times higher than the EC of the irrigation water, as a result of the presence of gypsum and relatively high ESP in the solid phase of the soil profile. Measured values of the EC of the soil solution were used to estimate the value of the dispersivity for longitudinal dispersion, λ. The resulting λ = 2.91 cm is in relatively good agreement with published field data of λ for another soil, but is much smaller than the value of the equivalent field-scale dispersivity calculated for two different soils.

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