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Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (4): 546-555    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-016-0010-2
Research Articles     
Soil hydraulic conductivity as affected by vegetation restoration age on the Loess Plateau, China
REN Zongping1,2*, ZHU Liangjun3, WANG Bing2, CHENG Shengdong2
1 State Key Laboratory Base of Eco-Hydraulic Engineering in Arid Area, Xi’an University of Technology, Xi’an 710048, China;
2 State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation,Chinese Academy of Science, Yangling 712100, China;
3 State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natura了Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
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Abstract   The Loess Plateau of China has experienced extensive vegetation restoration in the past several decades, which leads to great changes in soil properties such as soil bulk, porosity, and organic matter with the vegetation restoration age. And these soil properties have great effect on the soil infiltration and soil hydraulic conductivity. However, the potential changes in soil hydraulic conductivity caused by vegetation restoration age have not been well understood. This study was conducted to investigate the changes in soil hydraulic conductivity under five grasslands with different vegetation restoration ages (3, 10, 18, 28 and 37 years) compared to a slope farmland, and further to identify the factors responsible for these changes on the Loess Plateau of China. At each site, accumulative infiltration amount and soil hydraulic conductivity were determined using a disc permeameter with a water supply pressure of –20 mm. Soil properties were measured for analyzing their potential factors influencing soil hydraulic conductivity. The results showed that the soil bulk had no significant changes over the initial 20 years of restoration (P>0.05); the total porosity, capillary porosity and field capacity decreased significantly in the grass land with 28 and 37 restoration ages compared to the slope farmland; accumulative infiltration amount and soil hydraulic conductivity were significantly enhanced after 18 years of vegetation restoration. However, accumulative infiltration amount and soil hydraulic conductivity fluctuated over the initial 10 years of restoration. The increase in soil hydraulic conductivity with vegetation restoration was closely related to the changes in soil texture and structure. Soil sand and clay contents were the most influential factors on soil hydraulic conductivity, followed by bulk density, soil porosity, root density and crust thickness. The Pearson correlation coefficients indicated that the soil hydraulic conductivity was affected by multiply factors. These results are helpful to understand the changes in hydrological and erosion processes response to vegetation succession on the Loess Plateau.

Key wordssand-control system      blown sand motion      erosion      deposition      Taklimakan Desert Highway     
Received: 13 September 2015      Published: 10 August 2016

The State Key Program of National Natural Science of China (41330858), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41471226) and the Open Foundation of State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau (A318009902-1510).

Corresponding Authors: REN Zongping     E-mail:
Cite this article:

REN Zongping, ZHU Liangjun, WANG Bing, CHENG Shengdong. Soil hydraulic conductivity as affected by vegetation restoration age on the Loess Plateau, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(4): 546-555.

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