Validation of a spatial–temporal soil water movement and plant water uptake model

J. Heppell, S. Payvandi, Konstantinos Zygalakis, J. Smethurst, J. Fliege, T. Roose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Management and irrigation of plants increasingly relies on accurate mathematical models for the movement of water within unsaturated soils. Current models often use values for water content and soil parameters that are averaged over the soil profile. However, many applications require models to more accurately represent the soil–plant–atmosphere continuum, in particular, water movement and saturation within specific parts of the soil profile. In this paper a mathematical model for water uptake by a plant root system from unsaturated soil is presented. The model provides an estimate of the water content level within the soil at different depths, and the uptake of water by the root system. The model was validated using field data, which include hourly water content values at five different soil depths under a grass/herb cover over 1 year, to obtain a fully calibrated system for plant water uptake with respect to climate conditions. When compared quantitatively to a simple water balance model, the proposed model achieves a better fit to the experimental data due to its ability to vary water content with depth. To accurately model the water content in the soil profile, the soil water retention curve and saturated hydraulic conductivity needed to vary with depth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-539
Issue number7
Early online date25 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2014


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