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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2017

Connectivity and percolation of structural pore networks in a cultivated silt loam soil quantified by X-ray tomography

Jarvis, Nicholas; Larsbo, Mats; Koestel, Johannes


The connectivity of macropore networks is thought to exert an important control on preferential flow in soil, although little progress has been made towards incorporating an understanding of these effects into management oriented flow and transport models. In principle, concepts from percolation theory should be well suited to quantify the connectivity of preferred flow pathways, but so far its relevance for natural soils in the field has not been tested. To investigate this question, X-ray tomography was used to measure soil pore space architecture at an image resolution of 65 pm for 64 samples taken in two consecutive years in the harrowed and ploughed layers of a silt loam soil a few weeks after spring cultivation. The results showed that the pore networks displayed key features predicted by classical percolation theory: a strong relationship was found between the percolating fraction and the imaged porosity, with a percolation threshold of ca. 0.04 to 0.06 m(3) m(-3) in the harrowed layer. A percolation threshold was less clearly identifiable in topsoil that had not been recently tilled, although this may probably be attributed to finite size sampling effects in this layer, which showed a more heterogeneous and structured distribution of the pore space. Although further work on more strongly structured soil horizons, especially subsoils, would be desirable, it is tentatively suggested that percolation concepts could prove useful to estimate the conducting macroporosity in management models of preferential flow and transport. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


Percolation; Connectivity; Macropore; X-ray tomography; Tilled soil

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2017, Volym: 287, sidor: 71-79