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Keywords:

  • Soil hydraulic properties;
  • Beerkan method;
  • differentiated linearization method

Abstract

The BEST method (Beerkan estimation of soil transfer parameters through infiltration experiments) appears promising and easy to estimate not only saturated hydraulic conductivity but also water retention and hydraulic characteristics. However, few tests have been conducted to test the methodology. This study involved field BEST infiltration experiments for three layers (surface, 15 and 30 cm) for each of three soils with different soil textures under grassland. By comparing BEST with DL (differentiated linearization method), we found that the DL method did not produce a good estimate of the soil hydraulic properties and neither did it identify the transient flow state. The BEST method resulted in reasonable results and is therefore promising. However, with BEST we encountered some anomalies when calculating hydraulic properties in some cases with too few data points under the transient flow state. We show that the application of BEST field experiments requires a wide range of soil water content from initial to saturated states so as to include sufficient transient flow. The soil hydraulic properties determined using the BEST method showed contrasting characteristics between different soil textures with higher saturated hydraulic conductivity under coarse texture and lower values under loam textures, especially with highly compacted soils. Vertical variation in soil hydraulic properties was significant, and the surface layer had a lower saturated hydraulic conductivity partly caused by compaction (high bulk density) or by remnants of grass plants. Further research on the effects of compaction and grass plants on soil hydraulic properties is needed.