Impact of climate, soil properties and grassland cover on soil water repellency

Renata Sandor, Massimo Iovino, Lubomir Lichner, Vincenzo Alagna, Daniel James Forster, Mariecia Fraser, Jozef Kollár, Peter Surda, Viliam Nagy, Anita Szabo, Nándor Fodor

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Numerous soil water repellency (SWR) studies have investigated the possible causes of this temporal phenomenon, yet there remains a lack of knowledge on the order of importance of the main driving forces of SWR in the context of changing environmental conditions under grassland ecosystems. To study the separate and combined effects of soil texture, climate, and grassland cover type on inducing or altering SWR, four sites from different climatic and soil regions were selected: Ciavolo (CI, IT), Csólyospálos (CSP, HU), Pwllpeiran (PW, UK), Sekule (SE, SK). The investigated parameters were the extent (determined by repellency indices RI, RIc and RIm) and persistence (determined by water drop penetration time (WDPT) and water repellency cessation time, WRCT) of SWR, as well as field water (Sw) and ethanol (Se) sorptivity, water sorptivity of hydrophobic soil state (Swh) water sorptivity of nearly wettable soil state (Sww) and field hydraulic conductivity (K). Our findings showed an area of land has a greater likelihood of being water repellent if it has a sandy soil texture and/or a high frequency of prolonged drought events. Water infiltration was positively correlated with all the sorptivities (r = 0.32–0.88), but was mostly negatively correlated with RI (r = – 0.54 at CI), WDPT (r = – 0.47 at CI) and WRCT (r = – 0.58 at CI). The importance of natural and synanthropized vegetation covers with regards to SWR was not coherent; moving to regions having coarser texture or moving to drier climatic zones led to higher risk of SWR conditions. Climate change has been predicted to lead to more frequent extreme weather events and prolonged dry periods across Europe, which will most likely increase the extent of SWR-affected areas and increase the role of SWR in water management of grassland ecosystems. Therefore, there is a need to determine SWR risk zones to prevent decreases in soil moisture content, soil fertility, carbon and nitrogen sink potentials, as well as biomass production of the related agro-ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114780
Early online date01 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2021


  • Climate factors
  • Grass
  • Length of dry periods
  • Soil properties
  • Soil water repellency


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