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Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo

On-line version ISSN 1806-9657


SILVA, Álvaro Pires da; LEAO, Tairone Paiva; TORMENA, Cássio Antonio  and  GONCALVES, Antonio Carlos Andrade. Determination of air permeability in undisturbed soil samples by the decreasing pressure method. Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Solo [online]. 2009, vol.33, n.6, pp.1535-1545. ISSN 1806-9657.

Soil air permeability (Ka) controls the convective gas flux in the soil matrix and at the soil-atmosphere interface, directly affecting the soil physical quality for plant growth and the rate of processes that depend on the soil gas concentration. Ka can be estimated by a simplified method based on a modification of Darcy's law for gas flow in soil under decreasing pressure. The objective of this research was to modify and improve a permeameter for laboratory quantification of Ka by the falling pressure method. Two data acquisition systems were used for this purpose: an electronic-automatic system composed of a pressure transducer connected to a datalogger (E1) and alternatively, a system composed of a digital manometer for measuring the pressure decrease and a chronometer (E2). In E1, samples of the surface layer of a "Nitossolo Vermelho eutroférrico" (Alfisol) collected on the experimental farm of the Escola Superior de Agricultura "Luiz de Queiroz" - USP, Piracicaba, Sao Paulo, were evaluated, while in E2 samples of a "Nitossolo Vermelho distroférrico" profile from different depths, collected from the experimental farm of the Universidade Estadual de Maringá, Maringá, PR, were evaluated. The Ka tests were performed in undisturbed samples with variability in soil bulk density and water content. Overall Ka increased with decreasing soil water content and bulk density. This can be related to the increase in air-filled porosity volume with the decrease in these two variables. The results show that the apparatus is inexpensive, versatile, fast, and simple for Ka determination, independently of the data acquisition system.

Keywords : aeration; bulk density; soil moisture; soil physical functionality; soil processes.

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