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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

A Wick Tensiometer to Measure Low Tensions in Coarse Soils


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 54 No. 5, p. 1498-1500
    Received: Nov 10, 1989

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Glendon W. Gee  and
  2. Melvin D. Campbell
  1. Pacific Northwest Laboratory, P.O. Box 999, Richland, WA 99352



A wick tensiometer was constructed to measure soil water pressures or tensions in coarse sands and gravelly soils. The tensiometer is similar in design to a conventional tensiometer except that a flexible wick material is used instead of a ceramic cup. Soil matric potential (reported as tension) or water pressure is sensed by the wick and monitored with a pressure transducer or hanging water column. Several wick materials were tested. Absorbent toweling, rolled to form a tight cylinder and sealed into a tensiometer body by a compression fitting, measured tensions up to 90 cm successfully. Glass-fiber filter paper and wettable plastic sheeting were also tested successfully. Initial tests indicated that the wick sensor was as responsive to tension changes in gravelly soil as ceramic cup units and was less likely to break during placement.

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