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In-situ evaluation of internal drainage in layered soils (Tukulu, Sepane and Swartland)

Author(s): S. S. W. Mavimbela | L. D. van Rensburg

Journal: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions
ISSN 1812-2108

Volume: 8;
Issue: 6;
Start page: 9797;
Date: 2011;
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The soil water release (SWC) and permeability properties of layered soils following deep infiltration depends on the structural and layering composition of the profiles diagnostic horizons. Three layered soils, the Tukulu, Sepane and Swartland soil forms, from the Free State province of South Africa, were selected for internal drainage evaluation. The soil water release curves as a function of suction (h) and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity (K-coefficient) as a function of soil water content, SWC (θ), were characterised alongside the pedological properties of the profiles. The water hanging column in collaboration with the in-situ instantaneous profile method (IPM) was appropriate for this work. Independently, the saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) was measured using double ring infiltrometers. The three soils had a generic orthic A horizon but differed remarkable with depth. A clay rich layer was found in the Tukulu and Sepane at depths of 600 to 850 mm and 300 to 900 mm, respectively. The Swartland was weakly developed with a saprolite rock found at depth of 400–700 mm. During the 1200 h drainage period, soil water loss amounted to 21, 20 and 51 mm from the respective Tukulu, Sepane and Swartland profiles. An abrupt drop in Ks in conjunction with a steep K-coefficient gradient with depth was observed from the Tukulu and Sepane. Hydromorphic colours found on the clay-rich horizons suggested a wet soil water regime that implied restriction of internal drainage. It was therefore concluded that the clay rich horizons gave the Tukulu and Sepane soil types restricted internal drainage properties required for soil water storage under infield rainwater harvesting production technique. The coarseness of the Swartland promoted high drainage losses that proliferated a dry soil water regime.
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