The hydraulic conductivity in structured soils is known to increase drastically when approaching saturation. Tension infiltration allows in situ infiltration of water at predetermined matric potentials, thus allowing exploration of the hydraulic properties near saturation. In this study, the near saturated (ψ≥-0.15 m) hydraulic conductivity was estimated both in the top- and sub-soil of three Norwegian soils. A priory analysis of estimation errors due to measurement uncertainties was conducted. In order to facilitate the comparison between soils and depths, scaling analysis was applied. It was found that the increase in hydraulic conductivity with increasing matric potentials (increasing water content) was steeper in the sub-soil than in the top-soil. The estimated field saturated hydraulic conductivity was compared with laboratory measurements of the saturated hydraulic conductivity. The geometric means of the laboratory measurements was in the same order of magnitude as the field estimates. The variability of the field estimates of the hydraulic conductivity from one of the soils was also assessed. The variability of the field estimates was generally smaller than the laboratory measurements of the saturated hydraulic conductivity.
Research Article|June 01 1999