Measurement of subsurface unsaturated hydraulic conductivity

D. F. Holland, M. Yitayew, A. W. Warrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Measurement of unsaturated hydraulic conductivity is needed for precise control of water and solutes in the vadose zone. Because of the spatial variation of soils, a large number of surface and subsurface measurements are needed to characterize a field. In this work, permeameters were developed and tested for estimating subsurface unsaturated hydraulic conductivity. The permeameters apply water under tension; they are easy to use and have adequate accuracy. Unsaturated hydraulic conductivity was determined by measuring the steady flow rates for various values of negative pressure. Tests using a soil of known hydraulic conductivity showed that the permeameters provided valid measurements. Two types were used, a porous cloth model that was inflated against the soil and a porous ceramic cup that was rigid. The field testing determined that a rigid design using a ceramic cup coupled to the soil by a layer of fine sand was easier to use, was reliable, and provided good results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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