Assessment of the spatial variability of apparent electrical conductivity in a tile drained catchment in Fensholt subcatchment, Jutland, Denmark for improved small-scale prediction of highly reducing areas

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The implementation of a targeted, site-specific approach on reducing the nitrogen load from agriculture requires fine-scale assessment of soil heterogeneity. In this study, the soil heterogeneity was described through the spatial heterogeneity of the apparent electrical conductivity values (ECa) and its implications to the patterns of redox potential values (Eh) in an intensely tile drained agricultural area. Piezometers and platinum-tipped redox probes for water level and Eh measurements were installed in transects along the assumed subsurface lateral water flow direction at different depths overlying the tile drains. Water level and Eh were determined from February to August 2017. A statistical analysis of the average ECa and slope measurements of each transect showed that they could be classified into four operational soil combinations (SC): high ECa, low slope (SC-1), low ECa, low slope (SC-2), high ECa, high slope (SC-3), low ECa, high slope (SC-4). A significant correlation between the inverted electrical conductivity (EC) values, clay and soil organic carbon (SOC) content suggested that the EC correlates with clay content. The high clay percentage associated with high ECa is assumed to facilitate development of anoxic microsites which led to more reducing conditions. Due to the generally reducing conditions and higher occurrence of saturated piezometers, transects under SC-1 were considered to have the most potential for intense nitrate reduction. In a tile drained setting, classifications based on average ECa and slope values may be utilized as parameters for a simple mapping tool for improved fine scale prediction of potential hotspots for nitrate reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00336
JournalGeoderma Regional
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

    Research areas

  • Electrical conductivity, Electromagnetic induction, Nitrate reduction hotspot, Phaeozem, Redox potential, Slope

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