Variability of Soil Thermal Properties Along a Catena in Middle Tennessee, USA
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Agriculture, Middle Tennessee State University, United States
Final revision date: 2021-06-07
Acceptance date: 2021-07-08
Publication date: 2021-08-24
Corresponding author
Samuel Haruna   

School of Agriculture, Middle Tennessee State University, 37132, Murfreesboro, United States
Int. Agrophys. 2021, 35(2): 209-219
  • Spatial variability of soil thermal properties along a catena was analyzed.
  • Soil organic carbon was 71% higher at the toeslope compared with the backslope.
  • At 0 kPa, the volumetric heat capacity was spatially least variable at the toeslope.
  • At -33 kPa, thermal properties exhibited long-range variability at the summit.
Characterizing the spatial variability of soil thermal properties is an important component of precision agriculture. The current study characterized the spatial variability of soil thermal properties across five slope positions: summit, shoulderslope, backslope, footslope, and toeslope. Triplicate soil samples (0-18 cm) were collected from each slope position from a pasture field planted to tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea syn. sychedonorus arundinaceus). Soil thermal properties (thermal conductivity [λ], volumetric heat capacity [C], thermal diffusivity [D]), volumetric water content (θ) (at 0 and -33 kPa soil water matric potentials), bulk density (ρb), and soil organic carbon (SOC) were determined. Results showed that SOC was 26% higher, while ρb was 10% lower at the toe slope compared with the summit due to depositional forces. At saturation, C was 5% higher at the toe slope compared with the summit which is consistent with SOC and θ results. Semivariogram analysis showed that at saturation, the spherical isotropic models provided the best fit, for soil thermal properties (R2 = 0.95). The foot and toe slope positions exhibited the least variability in soil thermal properties. Future studies should explore the influence of a combination of slope position and various cropping systems on soil thermal properties.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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