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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 63 No. 4, p. 800-806
    Received: May 8, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): fxcasey@iastate.edu
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Comparing Field Methods that Estimate Mobile–Immobile Model Parameters

  1. F. X. M. Casey *a,
  2. D. B. Jaynesb,
  3. R. Hortona and
  4. S. D. Logsdonb
  1. a Dep. of Agronomy, Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA 50011 USA
    b USDA-ARS, National Soil Tilth Lab., 2150 Pammel Dr., Ames, IA 50011 USA


Recent studies have used field techniques that estimate soil hydraulic and solute transport parameters. These methods utilize a tension infiltrometer to infiltrate either a single tracer or a series of tracers in order to estimate immobile water content (θim) and mass exchange coefficient (α) of the mobile–immobile solute transport model. The objective of this study was to compare two single tracer methods (basic and variance) with one multiple tracer method for estimating θim and α from data obtained on the same field soil location. Hydraulic conductivity (K(h 0)) was also estimated using these methods. Research was done at five interrow sites in a ridge-tilled corn (Zea mays L.) field, and the soil was mapped as a Nicollet series (fine-loamy, mixed, superactive, mesic, Aquic Hapludoll). The values of θim and α estimated by the multiple tracer method compared well with previously measured values using the same technique on the same field. The θim values for the multiple tracer technique were larger than values derived from the basic single tracer technique. The basic single tracer technique did not take into consideration a mass exchange between θim and the mobile water domain (θm). The α values were less variable for the multiple tracer method than for the single tracer-variance method. Values of immobile water fraction (θim/θ) for the multiple and basic single tracer techniques ranged from 0.30 to 0.52 and from 0.24 to 0.35, respectively. The values of α for the multiple and single tracer-variance techniques ranged from 0.06 to 0.9 d−1 and from 0.03 to 60 d−1, respectively. The volumetric water content (θ) changed considerably over the course of the experiment for the estimation of α using the single tracer-variance method; thus, the assumptions of this technique were compromised. The measured values of K(h 0) at the five sites ranged from 0.47 to 1.66 μm s−1 There was evidence that the basic single tracer method underestimated θim and overestimated θm, because this method considers α = 0 during the tracer application.

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