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Scientia Agricola

On-line version ISSN 1678-992X


KIRDA, C.  and  REICHARDT, K.. Comparison of neutron moisture gauges with nonnuclear methods to measure field soil water status. Sci. agric. (Piracicaba, Braz.) [online]. 1992, vol.49, n.spe, pp.111-121. ISSN 1678-992X.

The neutron moisture gauge is compared with the gravimetric-core soil sampling technique, tensiometers and resistance blocks in relation to stability, Held variability, spatial dependence and number of samples needed at a given level of significance. The variance of field water content measurements with neutron moisture gauges is lower than that of the gravimetric sampling, which therefore requires 2 to 6 times as many samples as the number of measuring sites of the gauges to attain the same level of significance. The space dependence of the measurements made with the subsurface gauge varied depending on the average field soil water content. No space dependence was evident when the water content was lower than 0.2 (50% saturation). Measurements with the tensiometers and resistance blocks manifested no spatial dependence and therefore randomly selected measuring sites can be adapted to Held research work where these methods are to be utilized. Soil water content measurements estimated with neutron moisture gauges showed well defined temporal stability (i.e., the lowest, average and the highest soil water content measurements occur at the same field site) which implies that soil water status of an entire field can be assessed with measurements limited to few locations. Measurements with both tensiometers and the resistance blocks are time variant (i.e., the site giving field average water content changes spatially in time) owing to their relatively smaller measuring domains (i.e., scale of the area which can be represented by a single measurement) as compared to neutron gauges. Therefore it is not possible to define the measuring sites of the tensiometers and resistance blocks as to assess soil water status of the entire field, as it could be done with the neutron gauge.

Keywords : neutron gauges; tensiometers; resistance blocks; spatial variability; soil water.

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