Abstract

The polymer tensiometer is a novel instrument to measure soil water pressure heads from saturation to permanent wilting conditions. We used tensiometers of this type in an experiment to determine the hydraulic properties of evaporating soil samples in the laboratory. Relative errors in the hydraulic conductivity function in the wet part were high due to the relatively low accuracy of the pressure transducers, resulting in a large uncertainty in the hydraulic gradient and therefore in the calculated hydraulic conductivity. In the dry part, the error related to this accuracy was on the same order of magnitude as the error related to balance accuracy. Therefore, the method can be assumed adequate for measuring soil hydraulic properties except under very wet conditions. In our experiments, relative error and bias increased significantly at pressure heads less negative than −1 m.

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