Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Ole Wendroth

Abstract

Spatial variability of soil properties complicates the understanding of water and solute transport at the field scale. This study evaluated the impact of land use, soil surface roughness, and rainfall characteristics on water transport and Br- leaching under field conditions by means of a new experimental design employing scale-dependent treatment distribution. On a transect with two land use systems, i.e., cropland and grassland, rainfall intensity and the time delay between Br- application and subsequent rainfall were arranged in a periodically repetitive pattern at two different scales. Both scales were distinct from the scale of surface roughness as described by elevation variance. Nests of tensiometers and suction probes were installed at 1-m intervals along the transect to monitor matric potentials and Br- concentrations at different depths, respectively. After rainfall simulation, soil samples were collected at every 0.5 m horizontal distance in 10 cm vertical increments down to 1 m depth for Br- analysis. Soil Br- concentration was more evenly distributed with soil depth and leached deeper in grassland than cropland, owing to vertically continuous macropores that supported preferential flow. Frequency-domain analysis and autoregressive state-space approach revealed that the dominant factors controlling Br- leaching varied with depth. In shallow layers, land use was the main driving force for Br- distribution. Beyond that, the spatial pattern of Br- was mostly affected by rainfall characteristics. Below 40 cm, the horizontal distribution of Br- was dominated by soil texture and to a smaller extent by rainfall intensity. Bromide concentrations obtained from soil solution samples that were collected through suction probes showed similar results with respect to the influence of rainfall intensity. The spatial variation scale of temporal matric potential change varied with both time and depth, corresponding to different boundary condition scales. Matric potential change in some cases, reflected the impact of soil properties other than the boundary conditions investigated, such as hydraulic conductivity, contributing to the scale-variant behavior of Br- leaching. These findings suggest the applicability of scale-dependent treatment distribution in designing field experiments and also hold important implications for agricultural management and hydrological modelling.

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Soil Science Commons

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