The effect of mechanical compaction on the soil water retention curve: Insights from a rapid image analysis of micro-CT scanning

Nurit Goldberg-Yehuda, Uri Nachshon, Shmuel Assouline, Yair Mau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Soil hydrological and agricultural properties are highly affected by the soil water retention characteristics, which are closely related to the void size distribution and structure of the soil. Agricultural lands are often faced with the challenge of soil compaction, which alters the size, shape, connectivity, and morphology of soil voids. To determine the water retention curve and other hydrological and agricultural functions of un-compacted and compacted sandy soils, we used micro-CT techniques and image analysis procedures in both two and three dimensions. We found that these techniques were reliable, as they were validated against physical measurements and empirical physically-based models, and provided a relatively simple and fast way to characterize the key features of soil hydrological and agricultural properties. The findings highlight the impact of compaction on the soil void size distribution, resulting in increased water holding capacity, greater water availability for root uptake, and reduced hydraulic conductivity. We also discussed the differences between the two and three-dimensional analyses, highlighting the better ability to characterize soil hydrological and agricultural functions and soil water retention curve using the three-dimensional image analysis approach.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number108068
JournalCatena
Volume242
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024

Keywords

  • Image analysis
  • Micro-CT
  • Soil compaction
  • Void-size distribution
  • Water retention

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