Estimating Soil Water Retention from Soil Properties

by Walter J. Rawles, Hydro.; USDA-ARS, Hydr. Lab., Beltsville, Md. 20705,
D. L. Brakensiek, (M.ASCE), Research Hydr. Engr.; USDA-ARS, Northwest Watershed Research Center, Boise, Idaho 83701,


Serial Information: Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, 1982, Vol. 108, Issue 2, Pg. 166-171

Document Type: Journal Paper


Soil water retention characteristics are needed to describe the movement and storage of water in soils. Since conventional laboratory methods of obtaining these are expensive and time consuming, a method of estimating soil water retention at various matric potentials from readily available soil properties was investigated. Data from 2543 soil horizons representing many agricultural areas of the country were utilized. The soil properties investigated were the percent sand, silt and clay, the percent organic matter, the bulk density, median particle size, particle size index, and the -0.33 and -15 bar soil water contents. A series of regression equations for predicting soil water retention at 12 matric potentials ranging from -0.04 to -15 bar were developed utilizing different combinations of soils data.

Subject Headings: Soil properties | Soil water | Water storage | Soil water movement | Clays | Retaining structures | Particle size distribution | Geotechnical data

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