Articles | Volume 18, issue 5
Research article
20 May 2014
Research article |  | 20 May 2014

Coupling X-ray microtomography and macroscopic soil measurements: a method to enhance near-saturation functions?

E. Beckers, E. Plougonven, N. Gigot, A. Léonard, C. Roisin, Y. Brostaux, and A. Degré

Abstract. Agricultural management practices influence soil structure, but the characterization of these modifications and consequences are still not completely understood. In this study, we combine X-ray microtomography with retention and hydraulic conductivity measurements in the context of tillage simplification. First, this association is used to validate microtomography information with a quick scan method. Secondly, X-ray microtomography is used to increase our knowledge of soil structural differences. Notably, we show a good match for retention and conductivity functions between macroscopic measurements and microtomographic information. Microtomography refines the shape of the retention function, highlighting the presence of a secondary pore system in our soils. Analysis of structural parameters for these pores appears to be of interest and offers additional clues for soil structure differentiation, through – among others – connectivity and tortuosity parameters. These elements make microtomography a highly competitive instrument for routine soil characterization.