Abstract

Time domain reflectometry (TDR) is commonly used to determine water content. Many laboratory studies have shown accurate water determination across a wide range of soils, often with a unified calibration equation. Recent data has shown a strong temperature influence on some TDR data. The purpose of this study was to calibrate TDR for water content under both laboratory and field conditions for Mollisols. TDR waveguides and thermocouples were installed horizontally into the sides of pits at four sites and 9 or 10 depth positions on a 5% slope. Neutron access tubes were installed within 3.3 m of the TDR sites. After the field study, soil was collected around the waveguides and repacked into columns for laboratory calibration. The columns were progressively wetted and then dried over a few months. At each water content and at two or three temperatures, the waveforms, bulk electrical conductivity, and square root of apparent dielectric

\(\left({\epsilon}_{a}^{1/2}\right)\)
were saved for the laboratory data, but memory limitations prevented saving waveforms from the field data. Much of the field calibration data were shifted to higher values for εa1/2 than for the laboratory data, apparently due to problems with internal waveform analysis. High bulk electrical conductivities (up to 0.13 S m−1) were apparent for some of the sites and depths even though these are not saline soils. For the laboratory data, adding a temperature term to the calibration equation reduced the root mean square error (378 data points) from 0.54 to 0.34 m3 m−3, and for the field data (939 points) reduced it from 0.78 to 0.54 m3 m−3.

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