Infiltration into effluent irrigation-induced repellent soils and the dependence of repellency on ambient relative humidity

R. Wallach, E. R. Graber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


As a result of water scarcity and as a means of wastewater disposal, reuse of treated sewage effluent in irrigated agriculture is practiced worldwide. Among the detrimental aspects of wastewater re-use in agriculture is the possibility that soils will be rendered water repellent. The current study focuses on time dependent variation of infiltration rate in effluent-induced repellent soils, and time dependent variation in water repellency at different levels of ambient relative humidity (RH). The shape of the cumulative infiltration curve of water was found to depend on the repellency degree (concave for wettable and slightly repellent soils, convex for severely repellent soil). Compared with infiltration rates in the wettable and slightly repellent soils, infiltration rates in the severely repellent soil were very low at the beginning and then increased. When the liquid-vapor surface tension was reduced by means of ethanol addition to the infiltrating solution, the cumulative infiltration curve of the severely repellent soil also became concave. Repellency degree (as measured by WDPT) was found to be essentially constant over a large range of ambient RH values (< 10 - ∼8 1%), and to increase sharply at values above 90%. The relative increase in water drop penetration time (WDPT) at high RH was greatest for the least repellent soil (10-fold increase in WDPT), and least for the most repellent soil (2-fold increase in WDPT). At RH > 90%, the time to reach equilibrium with respect to WDPT and soil moisture content was similar. In contrast, at values of ambient RH ranging from <10 to 81%, WDPT was invariant over the course of reaching equilibrium with respect to moisture content. However, after reaching moisture content equilibrium, WDPT declined with increasing time.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2346-2355
Number of pages10
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number17
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2007


  • Effluent
  • Humic acid
  • Infiltration
  • Organic base
  • Relative humidity
  • Soil water repellency
  • Time dependence
  • WDPT
  • Wastewater
  • Water repellent soil


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