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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Soil water repellency in north-eastern Greece with adverse effects of drying on the persistence

Apostolos K. Ziogas A , Louis W. Dekker B C , Klaas Oostindie B and Coen J. Ritsema B

A Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Civil Engineering, Vas Sofias 1, Prokat, Xanthi 67100, Greece.

B Alterra, Green World Research, Department of Land Use and Soil Processes, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.

C Corresponding author. Email: Louis.Dekker@wur.nl

Australian Journal of Soil Research 43(3) 281-289 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SR04087
Submitted: 25 June 2004  Accepted: 24 December 2004   Published: 25 May 2005

Abstract

Many soils may be water repellent to some degree, challenging the common perception that soil water repellency is only an interesting aberration. When dry, water repellent soils resist or retard water infiltration into the soil matrix. Soil water repellency often leads to the development of unstable wetting and preferential flow paths. In the present study the persistence of water repellency was examined on samples from topsoils in Thrace, north-eastern Greece, using the Water Drop Penetration Time (WDPT) test. The soil samples were collected from agricultural fields throughout the prefectures of Xanthi and Rodopi. Six sites were selected for intensive sampling of water repellency and soil moisture content in transects. Water repellency was measured on field-moist soil samples and after drying the samples at increasing temperatures, to study the influence of drying temperature on the persistence of soil water repellency. Measurements of soil samples taken in agricultural fields under different crops, e.g. winter wheat, tobacco, clover, olive groves, kiwi fruit, and vineyards, in the area of Thrace, revealed that 45% of the locations exhibited actual water repellency during dry periods. Drying of samples from the Sostis site resulted in wettable soil, whereas drying of samples from the Mitriko site increased repellency. Therefore, water repellency should preferably be measured on samples taken in the field under dry conditions in order to reveal and determine the highest persistence of water repellency that might occur in the field.

Additional keywords: actual water repellency, critical soil water content, irregular wetting, potential water repellency, transition zone.


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