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Comparison of nuclear and capacitance-based soil water measuring techniques in salt-affected soils


F. Al-Ain. E-mail:


A field calibration experiment was carried out on salt-affected clayey soil in Syria, to compare the sensitivity to soil electrical conductivity (ECe), and bulk density (ρb) of two instruments for estimating soil moisture: the neutron probe (NP) and the Diviner 2000 capacitance probe (CP). The results showed that the values of the correlation coefficient of the calibration were decreased when the ECe and ρb values increased; this decrease was more pronounced for the Diviner 2000, indicating that it was more sensitive to ρb and ECe than the NP. When only scaled frequency was used in the fitted equation, the Diviner 2000 in wet soil underestimated soil water content significantly at all depths, but especially in the top layer, by up to 0.09 cm3/cm3 compared with gravimetric determinations. However, in dry soil, the Diviner 2000 overestimated the volumetric water content by up to 0.05 cm3/cm3 in the top 15 cm, and by 0.03 cm3/cm3 at 30-45 cm depth. The performance of the neutron probe was better overall; using a factory calibration curve no significant differences were observed between NP estimates and the gravimetric values. Including both ρb and ECe in the calibration equations improved the fits, although the regression coefficient (R2) for the Diviner 2000 remained low.