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Soil moisture release curves—What they are. Why you need them. How to use them.

Soil moisture release curves—What they are. Why you need them. How to use them.

Soil moisture release curves (also called soil-water characteristic curves or soil water retention curves) are like physical fingerprints, unique to each soil type. Researchers use them to understand and predict the fate of water in a particular soil at a specific moisture condition. Moisture release curves answer critical questions such as: at what moisture content will the soil experience permanent wilt? How long should I irrigate? Or will water drain through the soil quickly or be held in the root zone? They are powerful tools used to predict plant water uptake, deep drainage, runoff, and more. In this article, learn:

  • What is a soil moisture release curve?
  • Extensive vs. intensive variables
  • Water content vs. water potential
  • Plant available water
  • Soil water movement
  • Where do release curve data come from?
  • How to use a soil moisture release curve
  • How to use a curve to manage irrigation
  • How to produce lab and field curves

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