Measuring Soil Water Potential for Water Management in Agriculture: A Review
Soil water potential is a soil property affecting a large variety of bio-physical processes, such as seed germination, plant growth and plant nutrition. Gradients in soil water potential are the driving forces of water movement, affecting water infiltration, redistribution, percolation, evaporation and plants’ transpiration. The total soil water potential is given by the sum of gravity, matric, osmotic and hydrostatic potential. The quantification of the soil water potential is necessary for a variety of applications both in agricultural and horticultural systems such as optimization of irrigation volumes and fertilization. In recent decades, a large number of experimental methods have been developed to measure the soil water potential, and a large body of knowledge is now available on theory and applications. In this review, the main techniques used to measure the soil water potential are discussed. Subsequently, some examples are provided where the measurement of soil water potential is utilized for a sustainable use of water resources in agriculture.
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