Both capacitive indicators derived from the water retention curve and dynamic measurements of the flow-weighted mean pore radius, R0, were used to assess the soil physical quality of two agricultural areas (cropland and olive orchard) and two natural areas (grassland and managed woodlot plantation) potentially subject to soil degradation. The overall idea of the study was to investigate whether a dynamic indicator quantitatively derived from hydraulic conductivity measurements could be used to supplement the traditionally applied capacitive indicators retrieved from water retention measurements. According to the available criteria, only the surface layer of the cropland site showed optimal soil physical quality. In the grassland and woodlot sites, the physical quality was deteriorated also as a consequence of compaction because of grazing. Overall, the physical quality was better in tilled than nontilled soils. The optimal soil in terms of capacitive indicators had hydraulic conductivity close to saturation that was intermediate among the different land uses, and it remained 1·3–1·9 times higher than that observed in the natural sites even when the largest pores emptied. A depth effect on R0 was observed only when larger macropores were activated. It was suggested that water transmission parameters are more affected by changes in large pore domain. The plant available water content and Dexter's S-index showed inverse statistically significant regressions with R0. The empirical relationships were physically convincing given that, at increasing R0, the contribution of macropores increases, water is transmitted faster below the root zone and the soil's ability to store water is reduced.
|Numero di pagine||11|
|Rivista||LAND DEGRADATION & DEVELOPMENT|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2016|
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