Soil Water Retention in the Semiarid Region of Brazil

  •  Antonio Carlos da Silva    
  •  Jeane Cruz Portela    
  •  Rafael Oliveira Batista    
  •  Rutilene Rodrigues da Cunha    
  •  Joaquim Emanuel Fernandes Gondim    
  •  Luiz Eduardo Vieira de Arruda    
  •  José Francismar de Medeiros    


From the physics point of view, soil structure is a dynamic attribute that is affected by genetic conditions and anthropogenic changes and requires an integrated approach. Soil water retention curve is one of the main tools used in soil structure evaluations. The objective of this work was to evaluate the structural and chemical attributes of soils of different classes and agroecosystems in the Terra de Esperança Settlement (Governador Dix Sept Rosado, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil) to distinguish these environments. Disturbed and undisturbed soil samples were collected in horizons of 10 soil profiles of the soil classes: Cambissolo Háplico (Haplustepts), Latossolo Vermelho-Amarelo (Eutrustox), Chernossolo Rêndzico (Calciustolls), and Neossolo Flúvico (Usticfluvents). The soil physical attributes evaluated were granulometry, soil density, total porosity, aeration porosity, macroporosity, microporosity, field capacity, permanent wilting point, available water, and water retention curve. The results were expressed in averages of four replicates per horizon (in laboratory) by multivariate analysis, which detected the most sensitive attributes for the distinction of the environments. The soil physical attributes of the different classes and its inorganic fractions, especially silt and clay, were determinant to distinguish the environments; they affected the microporosity; aeration porosity; and available water. The source material of the Chernossolo Rêndzico, which is rich in calcium and magnesium, affected its physical attributes, characterized by the predominance of the silt fraction. Clay was the determinant fraction of the Cambissolo Háplico, and Neossolo Flúvico; and the sand fraction on the surface layer, and clay fraction in the Bw horizon were determinant of the Latossolo Vermelho-Amarelo. The more expressive physical attributes were soil density, sand content, macroporosity (Latossolo Vermelho-Amarelo), microporosity, field capacity, available water, permanent wilting point, total organic carbon, mass-based moisture, volume-based moisture, clay, aeration porosity (Cambissolo Háplico, and Neossolo Flúvico), and silt (Chernossolo Rêndzico).

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