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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 5
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 1805–1817, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-18-1805-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 1805–1817, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-18-1805-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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. Beckers1, E. Plougonven2,*, N. Gigot1, A. Léonard2, C. Roisin3, Y. Brostaux4, and A. Degré1 E. Beckers et al.
  • 1Univ. Liège, GxABT, Soil–Water Systems, 2 Passage des Déportés, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium
  • 2Univ. Liège, Department of Applied Chemistry, Laboratory of Chemical Engineering, Sart-Tilman, 4000 Liège, Belgium
  • 3Walloon Agricultural Research Centre of Gembloux (CRA-W), Department of Agriculture and Natural Environment, Soil Fertility and Water Protection Unit, 4 Rue du Bordia, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium
  • 4Univ. Liège, GxABT, Applied Statistics, Computer Science and Mathematics Unit, 2 Passage des Déportés, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium
  • *now at: ICMCB-CNRS/Group 4, 87 Avenue du Docteur Albert Schweitzer, 33608 Pessac, France

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.

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