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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Numerical Analysis of the Effect of the Lower Boundary Condition on Solute Transport in Lysimeters


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 63 No. 6, p. 1493-1499
    Received: Apr 13, 1998

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  1. Markus Flurya,
  2. Marylynn V. Yatesb and
  3. William A. Juryb
  1. Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164 USAbDepartment of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521 USA


Field lysimeters are often used to assess environmental behavior of agrochemicals. Most lysimeters used to date have a free-draining lower boundary where leaching out of the lysimeter occurs by gravity alone. In this case, the lower boundary of a lysimeter is open to the atmosphere, and consequently, leachate is collected only if the bottom of the lysimeter becomes water saturated. In a field soil, such local water saturation does not occur. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of the lower boundary condition on chemical leaching. Numerical simulations were used to compare solute transport in field soils and in lysimeters. Simulations were carried out in homogeneous sandy and loamy soils under steady-state, unsaturated water flow conditions. Water flow was described by the Richards equation and solute transport by the advection–dispersion equation. The effect of linear and nonlinear and instantaneous and kinetic sorption was investigated. The results showed that for a conservative solute the differences between field soil and lysimeter increase as the coarseness of the soil increases. Decreasing water flux increases the difference between field soil and lysimeter. In general, solute transport in the lysimeter is characterized by a slower mean velocity, a larger spreading, and smaller concentration values. For solutes subject to linear equilibrium sorption, the sorption mechanism compensates for the effects of the lower boundary condition. The larger the sorption coefficient, the less the difference between lysimeter and field soil. However, large differences are found in the case of strongly convex nonlinear sorption isotherms.

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Copyright © 1999. Published in Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.63:1493–1499 .