Field measurement of soil water repellency and its impact on water flow under different vegetation

Lubomir Lichner*, Paul D. Hallett, Debbie S. Feeney, Olivia Dugova, Miloslav Sir, Miroslav Tesar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Numerous recent laboratory studies have shown that vegetation can influence soil water flow by inducing very low levels of water repellency. In this study we extended on this previous research by developing a field-based test using a miniature infiltrometer to assess low levels of water repellency from physically based measurements of liquid flow in soil. The field-based test was verified through a simple laboratory experiment and then applied to determine the impact of vegetation and antecedent soil water content. The soil hydraulic properties determined were hydraulic conductivity, sorptivity, as well as the persistence and index of water repellency. Tests were conducted following a dry spell and wet spell on (1) forest soil (0 cm depth), (2) glade soil (0 cm depth) and (3) glade soil (50 cm depth). It was found that both the persistence and index of water repellency, R, decreased in the order as follows: forest soil > glade soil (0 cm) > glade soil (50 cm) for both dry and wet spell. The range of values of R was 0.28 (wettable) to 360 (highly water repellent), which affected hydraulic conductivity k (r)(-2 cm). R increased and hence k (r)(-2 cm) decreased in the order: forest soil <glade soil (0 cm) <glade soil (50 cm) for both the dry and wet spell. There were clear interactions between vegetation and changes to water flow caused by presence of repellency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-541
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • transport
  • water repellency
  • fairy ring symptoms
  • sandy soil
  • hydraulic conductivity
  • vegetation
  • sorptivity
  • irrigation


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