Modeling the dynamics of the soil pore-size distribution

Leij, FJ and Ghezzehei, TA and Or, D

Soil & Tillage Research, vol. 64(1-2), pp. 61-78 , 2002.


Soil hydraulic properties, Compaction, Wetting, Drying, Pore-size distribution, Analytical solution


Soil tillage often results in a structurally unstable soil layer with an elevated inter-aggregate porosity that is gradually decreased by the interplay of capillary and rheological processes. We have previously proposed to describe the evolution of the pore-size distribution (PSD) with the Fokker–Planck equation (FPE). The coefficients of this equation quantify the drift, dispersion, and degradation processes acting upon the PSD. An analytical solution for the PSD is presented for the case where drift and degradation coefficients depend on time, and the dispersion coefficient is proportional to the drift coefficient. These coefficients can be estimated from independent measurements of the PSD or (surrogate) water retention data or from mechanistic models. In this paper, we illustrate the application of the pore-size evolution model for: (i) a generic drift coefficient, (ii) static water retention data for soils under different tillage regimes, and (iii) dynamic hydraulic data for a soil subject to a sequence of wetting and drying cycles. These applications show the viability of our approach to model pore-size evolution. However, the development and application of the model is hampered by a lack of definitive data on soil structural and hydraulic dynamics.