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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 52(5)

A combined equation to estimate the soil pore-water electrical conductivity: calibration with the WET and 5TE sensors

Fernando Visconti A C, Delfina Martínez B, María José Molina B, Florencio Ingelmo A B and José Miguel de Paz A

A Centro para el Desarrollo de la Agricultura Sostenible – CDAS, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias – IVIA (GV), Crta. Moncada-Nàquera km 4.5, 46113 Moncada, València, Spain.
B Centro de Investigaciones sobre Desertificación – CIDE (CSIC, UVEG, GV), Crta. Moncada-Nàquera km 4.5, 46113 Moncada, València, Spain.
C Corresponding author. Email: fernando.visconti@uv.es

Soil Research 52(5) 419-430 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SR13331
Submitted: 16 November 2013  Accepted: 10 March 2014   Published: 26 June 2014

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Affordable, commercial dielectric sensors of the frequency domain reflectometry (FDR) and capacitance–conductance (CC) types estimate the dielectric permittivity (εb) and electrical conductivity (σb) of bulk soil. In this work, an equation was obtained to estimate the pore-water electrical conductivity (σp), which is closely related to the soil salinity in contact with plant roots, from εb and σb data, by combining the simplified dielectric mixing (SDM) model that relates εb to the soil volumetric water content (θ), with the Rhoades equation that relates θ and σb to σp. This equation was calibrated with measurements of εb and σb obtained with the Delta-T WET (FDR) and the Decagon 5TE (CC) sensors, in 20 pots filled with a clay loam soil and arranged as combinations of four levels of soil moisture with five levels of soil salinity. The calibrations were performed against reference θ and σp values. The σp was calculated with the chemical equilibrium model SALSOLCHEMEC and used as a more reliable reference than the electrical conductivity of the soil wetting water. For both sensors, the SDM model on the one hand, and the Rhoades equation on the other, provided the most accurate estimations using the least number of parameters regarding their respective alternatives, i.e. the third-order polynomial and the Hilhorst equation. The combined equation for estimation of σp subsequently provided root mean square deviations of 3.1 (WET) and 4.1 (5TE) dS m–1, which decreased to 1.5 and 2.6 dS m–1 for θ >0.22 m3 m–3, and σb <3 (WET) and 3.7 (5TE) dS m–1. A new combined equation has been proposed for reliable estimations of σp with these sensors in clayey soils for θ >0.22 m3 m–3 and σb <3.7 dS m–1.

Additional keywords: capacitance, frequency domain, irrigation, salinity, sensor.


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