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Iris Vogeler, Steve Green - Environment and Risk Management Group, HortResearch, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Celine Duwig - Laboratoire d’Agropédology, IRD, B.P.AS, Nouméa, New Caledonia

Time domain reflectometry (TDR) was used to monitor the transport of conservative tracers in the field under transient water flow in a controlled experiment under a kiwifruit vine. A mixed pulse of chloride and bromide was applied to the soil surface of a 16 m2 plot that had been isolated from the surrounding orchard soil. The movement of this solute pulse was monitored by TDR. A total of 63 TDR probes were installed into the plot for daily measurements of both the volumetric water content (θ) and the bulk soil electrical conductivity (σa). These TDR-measured σa were converted into pore water electrical conductivities (σw) and solute concentrations using various θ–σa–σw relationships that were established in the laboratory on repacked soil. The depth-wise field TDR measurements were compared with destructive measurement of the solute concentrations at the end of the experiment. These results were also compared with predictions using a deterministic model of water and solute transport based on Richards’ equation, and the convection–dispersion equation. TDR was found to give a good indication of the shape of the solute profile with depth, but the concentration of solute was under- or over-estimated by up to 50%, depending on the θ–σa–σw relationships used. Thus TDR can be used to monitor in situ transport of contaminants. However, only rough estimates of the electrical conductivity of the soil solution can so far be obtained by TDR.

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Measuring transient solute transport through the vadoze zone using time domain reflectometry
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Iris Vogeler, Steve Green - Environment and Risk Management Group, HortResearch, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Celine Duwig - Laboratoire d’Agropédology, IRD, B.P.AS, Nouméa, New Caledonia

Measuring transient solute transport through the vadoze zone using time domain reflectometry

Time domain reflectometry (TDR) was used to monitor the transport of conservative tracers in the field under transient water flow in a controlled experiment under a kiwifruit vine. A mixed pulse of chloride and bromide was applied to the soil surface of a 16 m2 plot that had been isolated from the surrounding orchard soil. The movement of this solute pulse was monitored by TDR. A total of 63 TDR probes were installed into the plot for daily measurements of both the volumetric water content (θ) and the bulk soil electrical conductivity (σa). These TDR-measured σa were converted into pore water electrical conductivities (σw) and solute concentrations using various θ–σa–σw relationships that were established in the laboratory on repacked soil. The depth-wise field TDR measurements were compared with destructive measurement of the solute concentrations at the end of the experiment. These results were also compared with predictions using a deterministic model of water and solute transport based on Richards’ equation, and the convection–dispersion equation. TDR was found to give a good indication of the shape of the solute profile with depth, but the concentration of solute was under- or over-estimated by up to 50%, depending on the θ–σa–σw relationships used. Thus TDR can be used to monitor in situ transport of contaminants. However, only rough estimates of the electrical conductivity of the soil solution can so far be obtained by TDR.

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