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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - Soil Physics & Hydrology

Effects of Throughfall Exclusion, Soil Texture and Spatial Continuity on Soil Water Repellency in Fichtel Mountains, Germany


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 80 No. 3, p. 554-562
    Received: Oct 28, 2015
    Accepted: Mar 16, 2016
    Published: June 24, 2016

    * Corresponding author(s): olgafishkis@gmail.com
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  1. Olga Fishkis *a,
  2. Karoly Müllera,
  3. Robert Hableb and
  4. Bernd Huwec
  1. a Soil Physics Group Univ. of Bayreuth D-95447, Bayreuth Germany
    b Deggendorf Institute of Technology Technology Campus Grafenau D-94481 Grafenau Germany
    c Soil Physics Group Univ. of Bayreuth D-95447, Bayreuth Germany
Core Ideas:
  • Drought reduces soil wettability even after eliminating the effect of soil moisture
  • Sand and clay content significantly decreased, while silt content increased WDPT
  • WDPT shows low spatial dependence on mesoscale at lags from 0.6 m to 5.2 m


The occurrence of soil water repellency (SWR) in soil is controlled by soil organic matter (SOM) composition and is strongly soil-moisture dependent. During drying the reduction of water content in soil has been shown to induce the outward orientation of nonpolar ends of organic compounds and hence the increase in SWR. A prolonged drought can however also induce changes in SOM composition which in turn can affect SWR. In this study, we eliminate differences in water content after prolonged throughfall exclusion and a control treatment by oven-drying of the soil samples, to test if a prolonged drought affects SWR even after excluding the direct effect of soil moisture. In addition, the relevance of soil texture variability and spatial dependence of SWR for prediction of soil wettability distribution over the study area was explored. The samples of the upper mineral soil horizon were taken from six plots in Fichtel Mountains, subjected to a throughfall exclusion or control treatments, oven-dried and analyzed for soil texture and water drop penetration time (WDPT). A linear model with spatially correlated random effects was used to quantify the effects of soil texture and treatment on the persistence of the SWR and to simultaneously evaluate the spatial structure of the SWR. Based on estimated parameters the persistence of SWR was calculated on unsampled locations by robust kriging with external drift. The throughfall exclusion treatment significantly increased the log(WDPT) (p < 0.01) of the oven-dried soil by 0.46. The clay content and the sand content had highly significant (p < 0.001) negative effects, while silt content had positive effects on the log(WDPT). The variogram parameter with a range of 5.2 m, a nugget of 0.25, and a sill of 0.45 indicated a rather low degree of spatial dependence of log(WDPT). The main outcome of this study is that the positive effect of throughfall exclusion on SWR cannot be fully attributed to water content reduction. Most probably the drought-induced changes in SOM composition and microbial community were responsible for the observed increase in SWR.

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