KWRRI Research Reports


Soil water contents of eight important soil series in Kentucky were measured periodically during the summer growing season for four years, 1977 through 1980. The soils divided into three groups according to their behavior. The first group (Maury and Crider) is well-drained and never showed excess water above field capacity at any time during the four seasons. The second group (Zanesville, Lowell, Calloway, Grenada and Shelbyville) showed perched water tables at times, especially during the early part of the growing season. The third group was represented by the Huntington soil which has a permanent water table.

The in-situ field capacity or upper limits was determined on numerous samples of the Maury, Crider and Shelbyville soil series. Variation within series was rather low, indicating that samples taken at one site are representative of the soil in general.

A model for estimating the soil water in each 15 cm layer was developed and proved to work very well with both Maury and Crider soils. Lowell soil was predicted poorly by the model, with other soils being intermediate. A variation of the model which assumed that the lowest layer of the Huntington was always at the upper limit due to a permanent water table also worked well.

The water calculated from the model as deep drainage was used as a measure of increase in streamflow and compared to measured streamflow on three watersheds and four soils in 1978 and 1979. The R2 values ranged from 0.41 to 0.95 and the slope, which ideally should be 1.0, ranged from 0.54 to 1.36. The quantitative measure of streamflow was not satisfactory but the prediction of events was quite good. Modifications in the model that seem to be required include provisions for evaporation from foliage with small rains, higher evapotranspiration at lower soil water contents, less deep drainage with small rains and an aquifer storage factor.

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The work upon which this report is based was supported in part by funds provided by the Office of Water Research and Technology, United States Department of the Interior, Washington, D. C., as authorized by the Water Research and Development Act of 1978. Public Law 95-467.