Matric suction induced by evapotranspiration is an important parameter for determining the hydraulic mechanisms of vegetation on slope stability. Despite evapotranspiration closely associated with atmospheric parameters and soil conditions, the influence of soil properties and illumination intensities on matric suction of vegetated soil has so far received the least research attention. In this paper, three kinds of soil, namely, fine sandy loam, sandy silt, and silty clay, were selected as experimental soils, and Indigofera amblyantha
was chosen as the test plant. The test conditions were controlled, such as the use of homogeneous soil and uniform plant growth conditions. Each specimen was exposed to identical atmospheric conditions controlled in a laboratory for monitoring matric suction responses over 10 days. The results showed that illumination intensities play an important role in evapotranspiration, and the thermal energy from lighting had a direct impact on plant transpiration, whereas the lighting only affected plant photosynthesis. Plant roots in vegetated soil can effectively improve the air intake value of soil, and matric suction induced by plant transpiration in vegetated soil was 1.5–2.0 times that of un-evapotranspirated soil. There is a correlation between matric suction and the silt and clay contents, and the matric suction of silty clay was sensitive to changes in the soil moisture content. Compared to fine sandy loam, the water retention of sandy silt and silty clay was high, and a high level of matric suction was maintained in the corresponding time. The results for predicting soil water evapotranspiration based on matric suction have theoretical and practical significance for preventing soil erosion and shallow landslides. In addition, these results have great guiding significance for agricultural production, such as irrigation.
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