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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.