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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Infiltration Simulations among Five Hydraulic Property Models


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 56 No. 3, p. 675-682
    Received: Apr 30, 1990

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Sam Alessi ,
  2. Lyle Prunty and
  3. W.M. Schuh
  1. USDA-ARS North Central Soil Conservation Research Lab., Morris, MN 56267
    Dep. of Soil Science, North Dakota State Univ., Fargo, ND 58105
    North Dakota State Water Commission, Bismarck, ND 58505



Analytical functions are used within computer models to give continuous representation of discrete data obtained from measurement. Functionally different equations have been used for soil hydraulic properties without concern for their smoothing effect on the data or their relationship to the stability of the numerical algorithm. This study evaluates the effect of five different power-function representations of the soil water-retention function and corresponding poreinteraction hydraulic-conductivity representations on numerical solutions of Richards' equation. The functions were curve-fit to 46 data sets for Hecla loamy fine sand (sandy, mixed Aquic Haploboroll). Minimum, median, and maximum function parameters (Campbell's b coefficient and air entry) were used to identify data sets from which one-dimensional finite-difference infiltration simulations were conducted. The wetting-front location varied 6.0 to 8.0 cm (T = 6 min) among models, whereas variation within a model due to soil-series-imposed parameter variability was slightly larger (5.5–8.5 cm). Infiltration amounts varied −27 to 12% from the average among models. The results quantify sources of error due to curve-fitting soil waterretention data to analytical functions assuming pore-interaction theory.

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