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Open access

Vincenzo Alagna, Vincenzo Bagarello, Simone Di Prima, Fabio Guaitoli, Massimo Iovino, Saskia Keesstra and Artemi Cerdà

Abstract

In bare soils of semi-arid areas, surface crusting is a rather common phenomenon due to the impact of raindrops. Water infiltration measurements under ponding conditions are becoming largely applied techniques for an approximate characterization of crusted soils. In this study, the impact of crusting on soil hydraulic conductivity was assessed in a Mediterranean vineyard (western Sicily, Italy) under conventional tillage. The BEST (Beerkan Estimation of Soil Transfer parameters) algorithm was applied to the infiltration data to obtain the hydraulic conductivity of crusted and uncrusted soils. Soil hydraulic conductivity was found to vary during the year and also spatially (i.e., rows vs. inter-rows) due to crusting, tillage and vegetation cover. A 55 mm rainfall event resulted in a decrease of the saturated soil hydraulic conductivity, Ks, by a factor of 1.6 in the inter-row areas, due to the formation of a crusted layer at the surface. The same rainfall event did not determine a Ks reduction in the row areas (i.e., Ks decreased by a non-significant factor of 1.05) because the vegetation cover intercepted the raindrops and therefore prevented alteration of the soil surface. The developed ring insertion methodology on crusted soil, implying pre-moistening through the periphery of the sampled surface, together with the very small insertion depth of the ring (0.01 m), prevented visible fractures. Consequently, Beerkan tests carried out along and between the vine-rows and data analysis by the BEST algorithm allowed to assess crusting-dependent reductions in hydraulic conductivity with extemporaneous measurements alone. The reliability of the tested technique was also confirmed by the results of the numerical simulation of the infiltration process in a crusted soil. Testing the Beerkan infiltration run in other crusted soils and establishing comparisons with other experimental methodologies appear advisable to increase confidence on the reliability of the method that seems suitable for simple characterization of crusted soils.

Open access

Saleh Yousefi, Seyed Hamidreza Sadeghi, Somayeh Mirzaee, Martine van der Ploeg, Saskia Keesstra and Artemi Cerdà

Abstract

Elucidating segregation of precipitation in different components in forest stands is important for proper forest ecosystems management. However, there is a lack of information on important rainfall components viz. throughfall, interception and stemflow in forest watersheds particularly in developing countries. We therefore investigated the spatiotemporal variation of important component of throughfall for a forest stand in a Hyrcanian plain forest in Noor City, northern Iran. The study area contained five species of Quercus castaneifolia, Carpinus betulus, Populus caspica and Parrotia persica. The research was conducted from July 2013 to July 2014 using a systematic sampling method. Ninetysix throughfall collectors were installed in a 3.5 m × 3.5 m grid cells. The canopy covers during the growing/leaf-on (i.e., from May to November) and non-growing/leaf-off (i.e., from December to March) seasons were approximately 41% and 81%, respectively. The mean cumulative throughfall during the study period was 623±31 mm. The average throughfall (TF) as % of rainfall (TFPR) during leaf-on and leaf-off periods were calculated 56±14% and 77±10%, respectively. TF was significantly (R2 = 0.97, p = 0.00006) correlated with gross precipitation. Percent of canopy cover was not correlated with TF except when gross precipitation was <30 mm. A comparison between leaf-off and leaf-on conditions indicated a significantly higher TFPR and corresponding hotspots during leaf-on period. TFPR also differed between seasons with a maximum amount in winter (82%). The results of the study can be effectively used by forest watershed managers for better perception of hydrological behavior of the Hyrcanian forest in the north of Iran under different silvicultural circumstances leading to getting better ecosystem services.