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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An open-source instrumentation package for intensive soil hydraulic characterization

  • Author(s): Concialdi, Paola
  • Di Prima, Simone
  • Bhanderi, Harsh M
  • Stewart, Ryan D
  • Abou Najm, Majdi R
  • Lal Gaur, Murari
  • Angulo-Jaramillo, Rafael
  • Lassabatere, Laurent
  • et al.

© 2019 Elsevier B.V. We present a new open-source and modular instrumentation package composed of up to ten automatic infiltrometers connected to data acquisition systems for automatic recording of multiple infiltration experiments. The infiltrometers are equipped with differential transducers to monitor water level changes in a Mariotte reservoir, and, in turn, to quantify water infiltration rates. The data acquisition systems consist of low-cost components and operate on the open-source microcontroller platform Arduino. The devices were tested both in the laboratory and on different urban and agricultural soils in France and India. More specifically, we tested three procedures to treat the transducers readings, including a filtering algorithm that substantially improved the ability to determine cumulative infiltration from raw data. We combined these three procedures with four methods for estimating the soil parameters from infiltrometer data, showing pros and cons of each scenario. We also demonstrated advantages in using the automatic infiltrometers when infiltration measurements were hindered by: i) linearity in cumulative infiltration curves owing to gravity-driven flow, ii) an imprecise description of the transient state of infiltration, and iii) the occurrence of soil water repellency. The use of the automatic infiltrometers allows the user to obtain more accurate estimates of soil hydraulic parameters, while also reducing the amount of effort needed to run multiple experiments.

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