Aarhus Universitets segl

Developing models to predict wilting point water content from air-dry moisture content

Main subject area: Soil water retention

Short project description

The water content at permanent wilting point (PWP) is crucial for understanding plant water stress and soil water availability. It marks the level of soil moisture below which plants can no longer efficiently extract water, leading to visible wilting and reduced growth. This knowledge guides irrigation scheduling and helps optimize water use efficiency in agriculture, ensuring sustainable soil health and crop productivity. The traditional method for determining plant wilting point (PWP) involves using a pressure plate apparatus, which is known to be laborious and time-consuming. More recent approaches, such as dewpoint potentiometry, have reduced the time required but are still considered tedious. However, there is potential to use the water content of air-dry soils (hygroscopic water content) as an indicator of PWP, as both parameters are influenced by soil properties like texture and organic matter content. In this project, a comprehensive soil dataset containing samples from various mineralogical and geographical origins will be utilized. The aim is to develop models that can estimate PWP using air-dry water content and other relevant soil properties, offering a more efficient and potentially less labour-intensive alternative to traditional methods.

Department and supervisor

Project start

Any time

Physical location of project and students work

Blichers Alle 20, Tjele, 8830-DK

Extent and type of project

45 ECTS: Experimental theses in which the student is responsible for collection and analysis of his/her own original data

60 ECTS: Experimental theses in which the student is responsible for planning, trial design and collection and analysis of his/her own original data

Additional information

The student should have knowledge of soil physics/soil science.

Useful Reading

  1.  Solone R., M. Bittelli, F. Tomei and F. Morari. Errors in water retention curves determined with pressure plates: Effects on the soil water balance. J. Hydrol., 470-471, 65-74.
  2. Chen C, Zhou H, Shang J, Hu K, Ren T. Estimation of soil water content at permanent wilting point using hygroscopic water content. Eur J Soil Sci. 2020; 71: 392–398. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejss.12887