Date of Award:

12-2010

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Plants, Soils, and Climate

Advisor/Chair:

V. Philip Rasmussen

Abstract

A soils infiltration rate (IR) is the measured rate that soil is able to absorb water, either from precipitation or irrigation. A low IR can cause damage to crops if the necessary amount of water cannot penetrate to the plant roots in the time needed. The damage can be common in permanent plantings such as almond and pistachio orchards where regular tillage is avoided. This indicates a physical aspect to the problem because tillage increases IR. However, there is also an electrochemical side to infiltration problems because certain calcium surfactant treatments can increase IR. Various other methods have been used to increase IR such as using cover crops and increasing organic matter. Despite these different approaches to the problem, the specific cause of low IR is often unknown. This study was conducted to determine what physical properties of soils from a site in California cause low IR. This research shows the relationship of these properties to low IR.

It was assumed that high amounts of mica in the very fine sand and coarse silt fraction of soils in Northwestern Kern County, California may interact with other physical and chemical properties to reduce IR. Fourteen sites were sampled in the area near the towns of Wasco and Shafter. The soils sampled represented the typical agricultural soils of the area and exhibited three levels of infiltration, Good (no amendments), Moderate (requires gypsum), and Poor (gypsum application is insufficient). Mica percentages in the very fine sand and coarse silt were calculated using a petrographic microscope and compared to the overall IR of the fields. Mica was shown to be significant factor at all three levels of IR.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on January 19, 2011.

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