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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 66 No. 2, p. 373-383
    Received: Jan 24, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): jean.caron@sga.ulaval.ca


Using TDR to Estimate Hydraulic Conductivity and Air Entry in Growing Media and Sand

  1. Jean Caron *a,
  2. Louis-Marie Rivièreb,
  3. Sylvain Charpentierb,
  4. Pierre Renaultc and
  5. Jean-Charles Michelb
  1. a Département des sols et de génie agroalimentaire, Université Laval, Sainte-Foy, QC, Canada G1K 7P4
    b SAGAH-Institut national de la recherche agronomique, Centre d'Angers and Institut national d'horticulture, 42 Georges Morel, C.P.57, Beaucouzé 49071 France
    c Unité de science du sol. – Domaine St-Paul – Site Agroparc Avignon, 84914 France


Gas relative diffusivity measurements are key indicators of the quality of growing media. Previous studies have shown that this property can be estimated indirectly from measurements of the point of air entry (ψa), air-filled porosity (θa), and saturated hydraulic conductivity (K s). Different tools are required to measure these parameters and this paper investigates how a single tool, time domain reflectrometry (TDR), already used to determine θa from measurements of volumetric water content (θ), could be utilized to measure ψa and K s in growing media. Cylinders were filled with 13 different substrates and coarse sand. A transient-state technique (vertical infiltration at −1 hPa of water potential) was used to calculate K s from θ measurements in time. In growing media, calculated K s values from transient-state experiment were statistically equal to estimates obtained from steady-state measurements at a potential of −1hPa. However, both methods underestimated the K s values obtained under steady-state conditions after a pulse of water had been applied or after prolonged wetting. For sand, TDR-based measurements and steady-state infiltration at −1 hPa, provided estimates of K s equal to those obtained after prolonged saturation. To estimate ψa, TDR probes in a horizontal and a vertical position were tested in addition to a pressure transducer technique. For growing media, the horizontal positioning of the probes provided more consistent estimates of ψa than the other two techniques. Estimates of ψa with TDR in sand, both in vertical and horizontal position, were similar.

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Copyright © 2002. Soil Science SocietyPublished in Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.66:373–383.