Pedotransfer functions for water retention and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity of forest soils



The hydraulic properties of soils, i.e., their ability to store and conduct water, mainly govern the availability of soil water for plants. Information on the hydraulic properties is needed, e.g., for the quantification of drought risk at a given site. Furthermore, knowledge of the water transport is the precondition for the estimation of element fluxes in the soil, e.g., when predicting element leaching from the root zone to the groundwater. For forest soils, only few systematic investigations of their hydraulic properties exist. Within the 2nd forest-soil survey of Germany, soil samples were taken along a regular 8 km × 8 km grid in the forests of the State of Baden-Württemberg and the hydraulic properties were estimated in the laboratory by multistep outflow experiments. Besides the soil-hydraulic measurements, numerous additional soil chemical and physical analyses were carried out and comprehensive profile descriptions were compiled and integrated in a hydraulic database. Based on this database, multiple-linear-regression techniques were used to develop pedotransfer functions for the water-retention curve and the unsaturated-hydraulic-conductivity curve using the parametric models of Mualem/van-Genuchten. Our work fills a gap since to our knowledge, no pedotransfer functions for the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity for forest soils exist so far. The predictive accuracy of the established pedotransfer functions, both for the water-retention curve and the hydraulic-conductivity curve, is in the range of (and in some cases better than) other published pedotransfer functions that were mostly derived for agricultural soils.