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Impact of Soil Amendments on the Hydraulic Conductivity of Boreal Agricultural Podzols

1
School of Science and the Environment, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Corner Brook, NL A2H 5G4, Canada
2
Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, Government of Newfoundland, Pasadena, NL A0L 1K0, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060133
Received: 25 May 2019 / Revised: 17 June 2019 / Accepted: 21 June 2019 / Published: 25 June 2019
Hydraulic properties of soil are the basis for understanding the flow and transport through the vadose zone. It has been demonstrated that different soil amendments can alter the soil properties affecting soil hydrology. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of soil amendments on hydraulic conductivity (K) of a loamy sand podzolic soil under both unsaturated (Kunsat) and near-saturated (near Ksat) conditions in an agricultural setting. A field experiment was conducted with two common soil amendments: Dairy manure (DM) in 2016 and 2017 and biochar (BC) once only in 2016. DM and BC were incorporated up to a depth of 0.15–0.20 m at a rate of 30,000 L ha−1 and 20 Mg ha−1, respectively. A randomized complete block experimental design was used and the plots planted with silage corn (Zea mays L.) without irrigation. The treatments were: Control without amendment (0N), inorganic N fertilizer (IN), two types of DM (IN+DM1 and IN+DM2), and two treatments with BC (IN+BC and IN+DM1+BC). Infiltration data were collected using a mini disk infiltrometer under three tension levels in which −0.04 and −0.02 m was ascribed as unsaturated (at the wet end) and −0.001 m as near-saturated condition. Based on the measured infiltration rates, Kunsat and near Ksat hydraulic conductivities were calculated. There were no significant effects of DM and BC on bulk density and near Ksat. Treatments IN+DM1, IN+DM2, and IN+DM1+BC significantly reduced the Kunsat compared to the control. Since these soil amendments can influence soil hydrology such as reduced infiltration and increased surface runoff, carefully monitored application of soil amendments is recommended. View Full-Text
Keywords: biochar; dairy manure; hydraulic conductivity; infiltration; podzols; soil amendments biochar; dairy manure; hydraulic conductivity; infiltration; podzols; soil amendments
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Wanniarachchi, D.; Cheema, M.; Thomas, R.; Kavanagh, V.; Galagedara, L. Impact of Soil Amendments on the Hydraulic Conductivity of Boreal Agricultural Podzols. Agriculture 2019, 9, 133.

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