Factors Influencing Infiltration Rates

Factors Influencing Infiltration Rates - Factors...

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Factors Influencing Infiltration Rates Emilie Lowe RLEM 301 April 21, 2008
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INTRODUCTION In range and forest watershed management it is important to determine how the amount of rainfall/irrigation affect erosion and runoff processes in areas that have different soil and vegetation characteristics. One way to determine how the amount of rainfall/irrigation affects those processes is to measure the infiltration rate of the soil. Infiltration is the process by which water moves through the soil surface and infiltration rate is the quantity of water passing through the soil surface per unit of time (USDA 1). There are many factors that can influence the infiltration rate such as bulk density, soil moisture, amount of vegetation, and sediment production. Bulk density is a measure of how compacted the soil is and is negatively related to infiltration rates. When soils become compacted the amount of pore space is decreased making it difficult for water to enter the soil. The pore volume in soils is a function of soil texture (clay, sand, silt, etc…) and degree in which soil is aggregated. The more pore space and less existing moisture in soils yield a higher infiltration rate. Soil moisture is another important determinant of infiltration rate. Soil moisture is loosely defined as the amount of water that is held in the space between soil particles. High soil moisture indicates that pore space is filled with water, creating low infiltration rates and an increase in runoff. Low soil moisture indicates that more water can enter the soil before the infiltration capacity is reached. The different types and amount of above ground biomass such as grass, forbs, litter and total standing crop influence sediment production and infiltration rates (Blackburn 1). Land areas with increased amounts of above ground biomass produce high infiltration rates compared to areas with decreased amounts. The reason for this is because the
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different types of vegetation determine the amount of water that is intercepted into the soil, amount of organic matter in soil and the amount of microrelief. When there is a decrease in vegetative cover, bulk density increases and the organic matter content and aggregate stability decrease. Sediments are a product of land erosion that develops from rill and sheet erosion. In order to prevent erosion from occurring it is important to
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Factors Influencing Infiltration Rates - Factors...

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