Seasonal changes of hydraulic properties of a Chromic Luvisol under different soil management

Abstract

In the present work the effect of five tillage methods on the hydraulic properties and water regime of a brown forest soil was studied. In each treatment, measurements of bulk density and soil water retention characteristics were carried out 3 times (March, June and August) within the vegetation period. Near-saturated hydraulic conductivity and soil water content measurements were performed five and eight times, respectively. Statistically valuable differences were obtained between the soil properties, measured in different tillage treatments. The effect of the tillage treatments on the water retention curves was significant in the low suction range (pF < 2.0) only. Differences between the soil water retention curves, measured at the end of the vegetation period reflected the indirect effect of different tillage systems on soil hydraulic properties. The seasonal variability of both the soil hydraulic functions was proofed. Saturated hydraulic conductivity values, evaluated in the ploughing treatment at the beginning and end of the vegetation period differed up to 4-times. The near-saturated hydraulic conductivity values measured in March were nearly two times higher in all the treatments, except no till, than those, measured in August. The applied tillage systems did not influence the potential amount of water available for the plant; still, valuable differences between the soil water contents were measured. According to the soil hydraulic properties and measured soil water regime, ploughing and deep loosening created the most favourable soil conditions for the plants. The biological activity, however, was the highest in the no till treatment. Further studies on the application of the soil conserving tillage systems under Hungarian conditions are recommended.

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