29 Jun 2023
 | 29 Jun 2023

Differentiating between crop and soil effects on soil moisture dynamics

Helen Scholz, Gunnar Lischeid, Lars Ribbe, and Kathrin Grahmann

Abstract. There is urgent need for developing sustainable agricultural land use schemes. On the one side, climate change is expected to increase drought risk as well as the frequency of extreme precipitation events in many regions. On the other side crop production has induced increased greenhouse gas emissions and enhanced nutrient and pesticide leaching to groundwater and receiving streams. Consequently, sustainable management schemes require sound knowledge of site-specific soil hydrological processes, accounting explicitly for the interplay between soil heterogeneities and crops. Here we present a powerful diagnostic tool applied to a highly diversified arable field with seven different crops and two management schemes. A principal component analysis was applied to a set of 64 soil moisture time series.

About 97 % of the spatial and temporal variance of the data set was explained by the first five principal components. Meteorological drivers accounted for 72 % of the variance. Another 17 % was attributed to different seasonal behaviour of different crops. The effect of very low soil moisture in deeper layers at the onset of the growing season explained another 4.1 %, and soil texture 2.2 %. The fifth component represented the effect of soil depth (1.7 %). In contrast, neither topography nor weed control had a significant effect on soil moisture. Contrary to common expectations, soil and rooting pattern heterogeneity seemed not to play a major role in this case study.

Helen Scholz et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1115', Anonymous Referee #1, 12 Jul 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Kathrin Grahmann, 20 Sep 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1115', Tobias L. Hohenbrink, 28 Jul 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Kathrin Grahmann, 20 Sep 2023

Helen Scholz et al.

Data sets

Dataset of TDR soil moisture data from a LoRaWAN based soil sensing network of a selection of sensors at patchCROP for December 2020 to August 2021 for a principal component analysis Helen Scholz, Kathrin Grahmann

Helen Scholz et al.


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Short summary
Sustainable management schemes in agriculture require knowledge of site-specific soil hydrological processes, especially the interplay between soil heterogeneities and crops. We disentangled such effects on soil moisture in a diversified arable field with different crops and management schemes by applying a principal component anylsis. The main effects on soil moisture variability were quantified. Meteorological drivers, followed by different seasonal behaviour of crops had the largest impact.