Investigation of Interactive Effects on Water Flow and Solute Transport in Sandy Loam Soil Using Time Domain Reflectometry
Received: 5 June 2012 / Revised: 4 July 2012 / Accepted: 16 July 2012 / Published: 18 July 2012
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Surface-applied chemicals move through the unsaturated zone with complex flow and transport processes due to soil heterogeneity and reach the saturated zone, resulting in groundwater contamination. Such complex processes need to be studied by advanced measurement and modeling techniques to protect soil and
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Surface-applied chemicals move through the unsaturated zone with complex flow and transport processes due to soil heterogeneity and reach the saturated zone, resulting in groundwater contamination. Such complex processes need to be studied by advanced measurement and modeling techniques to protect soil and water resources from contamination. In this study, the interactive effects of factors like soil structure, initial soil water content (SWC), and application rate on preferential flow and transport were studied in a sandy loam field soil using measurement (by time domain reflectometry (TDR)) and modeling (by MACRO and VS2DTI) techniques. In addition, statistical analyses were performed to compare the means of the measured and modeled SWC and EC, and solute transport parameters (pore water velocity and dispersion coefficient) in 12 treatments. Research results showed that even though the effects of soil structural conditions on water and solute transport were not so clear, the applied solution moved lower depths in the profiles of wet versus
dry initial SWC and high application rate versus
low application rates. The effects of soil structure and initial SWC on water and solute movement could be differentiated under the interactive conditions, but the effects of the application rates were difficult to differentiate under different soil structural and initial SWC conditions. Modeling results showed that MACRO had somewhat better performance than VS2DTI in the estimation of SWC and EC with space and time, but overall both models had relatively low performances. The means of SWC, EC, and solute transport parameters of the 12 treatments were divided into some groups based on the statistical analyses, indicating different flow and transport characteristics or a certain degree nonuniform or preferential flow and transport in the soil. Conducting field experiments with more interactive factors and applying the models with different approaches may allow better understanding of flow and transport processes in addition to the simulations of them in the unsaturated zone.