Comparison of neutron scattering and DFM capacitance instruments in measuring soil water evaporation
Soil water evaporation is an important parameter that needs to be accurately measured for the design of water-efficient agricultural systems. With this study, the abilities of the DFM capacitance probes and a neutron water meter (NWM) to measure evaporation from the soil surface were compared. Measured evaporation was compared to the control values measured with mini-lysimeters. Calibration of DFM capacitance probes and the NWM was done in the laboratory using the topsoil of a Bainsvlei soil form. Field measurements of soil water content were done on the same Bainsvlei soil. Calibration results indicated a good correspondence (r2 = 0.99) between the measured values and known volumetric soil water contents. There was no significant difference (p = 95%) between the DFM evaporation measurements and the control, whereas the NWM and control differed significantly. It was concluded that the DFM capacitance probe is a better tool than the NWM in measuring evaporation from the topsoil surface.
Keywords: neutron water meter, capacitance probes, evaporation, soil wetness