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Open access

Vincenzo Alagna, Massimo Iovino, Vincenzo Bagarello, Jorge Mataix-Solera and Ľubomír Lichner

Abstract

Assessment of soil water repellency (SWR) was conducted in the decomposed organic floor layer (duff) and in the mineral soil layer of two Mediterranean pine forests, one in Italy and the other in Spain, by the widely-used water drop penetration time (WDPT) test and alternative indices derived from infiltration experiments carried out by the minidisk infiltrometer (MDI). In particular, the repellency index (RI) was calculated as the adjusted ratio between ethanol and water soil sorptivities whereas the water repellency cessation time (WRCT) and the specifically proposed modified repellency index (RIm) were derived from the hydrophobic and wettable stages of a single water infiltration experiment. Time evolution of SWR and vegetation cover influence was also investigated at the Italian site. All indices unanimously detected severe SWR conditions in the duff of the pine forests. The mineral subsoils in the two forests showed different wettability and the clay-loam subsoil at Ciavolo forest was hydrophobic even if characterized by organic matter (OM) content similar to the wettable soil of an adjacent glade. It was therefore assumed that the composition rather than the total amount of OM influenced SWR. The hydraulic conductivity of the duff differed by a factor of 3.8–5.8 between the two forested sites thus influencing the vertical extent of SWR. Indeed, the mineral subsoil of Javea showed wettable or weak hydrophobic conditions probably because leaching of hydrophobic compounds was slowed or prevented at all. Estimations of SWR according to the different indices were in general agreement even if some discrepancies were observed. In particular, at low hydrophobicity levels the SWR indices gathered from the MDI tests were able to signal sub-critical SWR conditions that were not detected by the traditional WDPT index. The WRCT and modified repellency index RIm yielded SWR estimates in reasonable agreement with those obtained with the more cumbersome RI test and, therefore, can be proposed as alternative procedures for SWR assessment.

Open access

Massimo Iovino, Pavla Pekárová, Paul D. Hallett, Ján Pekár, Ľubomír Lichner, Jorge Mataix-Solera, Vincenzo Alagna, Richard Walsh, Annette Raffan, Karsten Schacht and Marek Rodný

Abstract

The extent (determined by the repellency indices RI and RIc) and persistence (determined by the water drop penetration time, WDPT) of soil water repellency (SWR) induced by pines were assessed in vastly different geographic regions. The actual SWR characteristics were estimated in situ in clay loam soil at Ciavolo, Italy (CiF), sandy soil at Culbin, United Kingdom (CuF), silty clay soil at Javea, Spain (JaF), and sandy soil at Sekule, Slovakia (SeF). For Culbin soil, the potential SWR characteristics were also determined after oven-drying at 60°C (CuD). For two of the three pine species considered, strong (Pinus pinaster at CiF) and severe (Pinus sylvestris at CuD and SeF) SWR conditions were observed. Pinus halepensis trees induced slight SWR at JaF site. RI and RIc increased in the order: JaF < CuF < CiF < CuD < SeF, reflecting nearly the same order of WDPT increase. A lognormal distribution fitted well to histograms of RIc data from CuF and JaF, whereas CiF, CuD and SeF had multimodal distributions. RI correlated closely with WDPT, which was used to develop a classification of RI that showed a robust statistical agreement with WDPT classification according to three different versions of Kappa coefficient.

Open access

Massimo Iovino, Rafael Angulo-Jaramillo, Vincenzo Bagarello, Horst H. Gerke, Jay Jabro and Laurent Lassabatere

Open access

Mario Pirastru, Vincenzo Bagarello, Massimo Iovino, Roberto Marrosu, Mirko Castellini, Filippo Giadrossich and Marcello Niedda

Abstract

The lateral saturated hydraulic conductivity, Ks,l, is the soil property that mostly governs subsurface flow in hillslopes. Determinations of Ks,l at the hillslope scale are expected to yield valuable information for interpreting and modeling hydrological processes since soil heterogeneities are functionally averaged in this case. However, these data are rare since the experiments are quite difficult and costly. In this investigation, that was carried out in Sardinia (Italy), large-scale determinations of Ks,l were done in two adjacent hillslopes covered by a Mediterranean maquis and grass, respectively, with the following objectives: i) to evaluate the effect of land use change on Ks,l, and ii) to compare estimates of Ks,l obtained under natural and artificial rainfall conditions. Higher Ks,l values were obtained under the maquis than in the grassed soil since the soil macropore network was better connected in the maquis soil. The lateral conductivity increased sharply close to the soil surface. The sharp increase of Ks,l started at a larger depth for the maquis soil than the grassed one. The Ks,l values estimated during artificial rainfall experiments agreed with those obtained during the natural rainfall periods. For the grassed site, it was possible to detect a stabilization of Ks,l in the upper soil layer, suggesting that flow transport capacity of the soil pore system did not increase indefinitely. This study highlighted the importance of the experimental determination of Ks,l at the hillslope scale for subsurface modeling, and also as a benchmark for developing appropriate sampling methodologies based on near-point estimation of Ks,l.

Open access

Simone Di Prima, Vincenzo Bagarello, Rafael Angulo-Jaramillo, Inmaculada Bautista, Artemi Cerdà, Antonio del Campo, María González-Sanchis, Massimo Iovino, Laurent Lassabatere and Federico Maetzke

Abstract

In Mediterranean ecosystems, special attention needs to be paid to forest–water relationships due to water scarcity. In this context, Adaptive Forest Management (AFM) has the objective to establish how forest resources have to be managed with regards to the efficient use of water, which needs maintaining healthy soil properties even after disturbance. The main objective of this investigation was to understand the effect of one of the AFM methods, namely forest thinning, on soil hydraulic properties. At this aim, soil hydraulic characterization was performed on two contiguous Mediterranean oak forest plots, one of them thinned to reduce the forest density from 861 to 414 tree per ha. Three years after the intervention, thinning had not affected soil water permeability of the studied plots. Both ponding and tension infiltration runs yielded not significantly different saturated, Ks, and unsaturated, K −20, hydraulic conductivity values at the thinned and control plots. Therefore, thinning had no an adverse effect on vertical water fluxes at the soil surface. Mean Ks values estimated with the ponded ring infiltrometer were two orders of magnitude higher than K −20 values estimated with the minidisk infiltrometer, revealing probably soil structure with macropores and fractures. The input of hydrophobic organic matter, as a consequence of the addition of plant residues after the thinning treatment, resulted in slight differences in terms of both water drop penetration time, WDPT, and the index of water repellency, R, between thinned and control plots. Soil water repellency only affected unsaturated soil hydraulic conductivity measurements. Moreover, K −20 values showed a negative correlation with both WDPT and R, whereas Ks values did not, revealing that the soil hydrophobic behavior has no impact on saturated hydraulic conductivity.