Water retention curve is the relationship between the water content, θ, and the soil water potential, ψ. This curve is characteristic for different types of soil, and is also called the soil moisture characteristic.
It is used to predict the soil water storage, water supply to the plants (field capacity) and soil aggregate stability. Due to the hysteretic effect of water filling and draining the pores, different wetting and drying curves may be distinguished.
The general features of a water retention curve can be seen in the figure, in which the volume water content, θ, is plotted against the matric potential, . At potentials close to zero, a soil is close to saturation, and water is held in the soil primarily by capillary forces. As θ decreases, binding of the water becomes stronger, and at small potentials (more negative, approaching wilting point) water is strongly bound in the smallest of pores, at contact points between grains and as films bound by adsorptive forces around particles.
Sandy soils will involve mainly capillary binding, and will therefore release most of the water at higher potentials, while clayey soils, with adhesive and osmotic binding, will release water at lower (more negative) potentials. At any given potential, peaty soils will usually display much higher moisture contents than clayey soils, which would be expected to hold more water than sandy soils. The water holding capacity of any soil is due to the porosity and the nature of the bonding in the soil.
... In 1907, Edgar Buckingham created the first water retention curve ... came from experiments made on soil columns 48 inch tall, where a constant water level maintained about 2 inches above the bottom through periodic addition of water from a side tube ...
... Integral energy is the amount of energy required to remove water from an initial water content to water content of (where ) ... It is calculated by integrating the water retention curve, soil water potential with respect to It is proposed by Minasny and McBratney (2003) as alternative to available water capacity ... the path or energy (characterised by water retention curve) required to dry a soil at particular soil moisture content ...
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