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Effects of three morphometric features of roots on soil water flow behavior in three sites in China

First Author: Jiang XJ

Soil physical properties, infiltrability, and water flow behavior are closely associated with root morphology. In
this study, dye tracer experiments were conducted in the field to assess the effects of roots with various morphometric
features on soil water flow behavior and soil infiltrability. Preferential flow is the dominant type of
water flow in the three study sites (Minqin, Dongtai, and Mengla). The presence of roots caused noncapillary
porosity and saturated hydraulic conductivity to increase by 26% and 252% in the Minqin, 92% and 93% in the
Dongtai, and 234% and 96% in the Mengla, respectively, relative to that in in soils without roots. The various
morphometric features of roots affect water flow behavior in soil. The fibrous roots of maize induced water to
flow and distribute evenly throughout the plough layer of the study site in Minqin. Furrows and ridges in this site
exhibited different soil physical and hydrological properties. Furrows could store higher amounts of water than
ridges, thereby increasing the likelihood of water absorption by plants. In Dongtai, ponding and surface runoff
occurred when water infiltration was inhibited by the mud layer, which exhibited a high soil bulk density value
of 1.43 g cm?3 and a low saturated hydraulic conductivity value of 1.67×10?5 cm s?1. These phenomena were
not observed in plots the smooth roots of Spartina alterniflora penetrated the mud layer. In this site, preferential
flow and lateral flow, which is triggered by the sandy loam layer, are important for water discharge from the
beach to the ocean. In Mengla, water flowed evenly on hard soil, which exhibited a high bulk density value of
1.43 g cm?3. The fine roots of rubber could guide water infiltration into deep soil layers (73.54 cm), thereby
redistributing water to the root zones of rubber trees. Therefore, our findings indicated that water infiltration
behavior, which is crucial for water distribution, is affected by the various morphometric features of roots.

Contact the author: Liu WJ
Page Number: 161-171
Issue: 15
Impact Factor: 4.036
Authors units:
PubYear: 2018 Jan
Volume: 320
Publication Name: Geoderma
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