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Preferential Flow Control: Key To Sustainable

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 287-289 in Preferential Flow, Water Movement and Chemical Transport in the Environment, Proc. 2nd Int. Symp. (3-5 January 2001, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA), eds. D. D. Bosch and K. W. King. St. Joseph, Michigan: ASAE  701P0006.(doi:10.13031/2013.2091)
Authors:   R.M.Dixon and A.B.Carr
Keywords:   Preferential flow, Soil management, Soil macroporosity, Infiltration, Land imprinting

This paper traces the course of research conducted by the senior author and several coworkers beginning in 1960 and continuing to the present time. A review of water infiltration literature and some early infiltrometer trials led to the formulation of the Air-Earth Interface (AEI) Concept for water infiltration into initially dry soils which states that the microroughness and macroporosity of the AEI regulate the exchange of surface water and displaced soil air across the AEI with the rough-open interface having very high exchange rates and with the smooth-closed interface having very low rates. This concept was supported by a series of sprinkling infiltrometer studies, wherein manipulation of surface microroughness and macroporosity (roughness and openness) provided an order of magnitude control over water infiltration. In other words, management of these two surface conditions controls preferential flow in macropores, thereby providing a means for controlling infiltration. Controlling infiltration at high levels is the key to sustainable land management.

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