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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 63 No. 3, p. 536-543
    Received: May 6, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): krbrye@students.wisc.edu
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An Equilibrium Tension Lysimeter for Measuring Drainage through Soil

  1. K. R. Brye ,
  2. J. M. Norman,
  3. L. G. Bundy and
  4. S. T. Gower
  1. Dep. of Soil Science, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1525 Observatory Dr., Madison, WI 53706-1299
    Dep. of Forest Ecology and Management, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1630 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706



An equilibrium tension lysimeter (ETL) was designed to maintain equilibrium between lysimeter suction and soil matric potential. Equilibrium tension lysimeter replicates were installed in a natural prairie, and N-fertilized no-tillage and chisel-plow agroecosystems to measure drainage through undisturbed soil. The ETLs were used to monitor drainage continuously at 1.4 m below the soil surface through a 0.2-µm pore diameter stainless steel porous plate (0.19 m2). Heat dissipation sensors were used to record variations in matric potential inside and outside the ETL's sampling area. Suction was maintained on lysimeters according to the matric potential experienced by the surrounding bulk soil. Cumulative lysimeter drainage was 199, 563, and 793 mm for the prairie, fertilized no-tillage, and fertilized chisel-plow agroeco-systems for 132 wk between 25 June 1995 and 3 Jan. 1998. Drainage accounted for 11, 31, and 44% of precipitation inputs for the prairie, fertilized no-tillage, and fertilized chisel plow systems. Variability between lysimeter replicates was smallest for the prairie, where the coefficient of variation (CV) was 8.2%, and largest for the N-fertilized no-tillage agroecosystem (CV = 36.6%).

Research supported by Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Hatch Interdisciplinary Research Program.

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