Volume 6, Issue 1 (January 2009)
Soil Water Measurements Relevant to Agronomic and Environmental Functions of Chemically Treated Soil
Modern agricultural, turf, and landscape management routinely apply and depend upon chemical applications to optimize system function for specific outcomes. The effectiveness of these applied chemicals to achieve desired outcomes usually depends upon their interaction with and transport by water. To fully and accurately assess the role of water as a chemical delivery and activation system requires a good understanding of how the applied chemicals, soil, and water interact, the scale at which a phenomenon is important, the nature of soil variability, and which of the three dominant soil water properties (content, movement, or potential energy) is most suited to assessing water’s role. The science of this assessment process is extensive and its literature is voluminous. For the uninitiated, however, it is worth being aware at least of the basics of soil water assessment and where some of the pitfalls lie. This presentation describes soil as a three-phase system (solids, liquid, and gases) and highlights some of the key measurements and measurement considerations necessary to appropriately characterize treatment efficacy for specific, and especially, non-intuitive effects. The presentation cannot be comprehensive or substitute for requisite university-level courses in soil physics and soil chemistry, but can, perhaps, alert applicators to situations and considerations that demand more than mere cursory assessment for proper evaluation and interpretation.