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Double ring infiltrometer

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Saturated hydraulic conductivity: Double ring inltrometer


Saturated hydraulic conductivity is one of the most important soil

hydrophysical characteristics. Its determination is needed for many
dierent applications and it is a key parameter for solutions in soil
physics, hydrogeology, environmental protection, soil and groundwater
protection against pollution, soil reclamation, irrigation and drainage for
agricultural and nonagricultural purposes, landll foundation, sport
surfaces, etc.
It is also one of the main input parameters for models simulating
transport of water and solutes through the soil prole.
The soils can be classied according to the scale described in Tab 1.

Tab 1. Soil classication table based on values of saturated hydraulic

conductivity K (according to the formerly valid Czech standard
CSN 721020)
Soil (according the relative

Approximate range of saturated hydraulic

conductivity (m s1)

Examples of soil types

Highly impermeable

< 1010

clays with low and medium plasticity, clays with high and
extremely high plasticity


from 108 to 1010

gravel loams, gravel clays and sandy clays, loams with

low and medium plasticity

Lowly (poorly) permeable

from 106 to 108

sandy loams, loamy sands and clayey sands, loamy

gravels and clayey gravels


from 104 to 106

sands and gravels , containing negrained fraction

(5 15 %)

Highly permeable

> 104

sands and gravels without or with very low ne grained

fraction (<5%)

Double ring inltrometer (Parr and Bertrand, 1960)

The double ring inltrometer is a widely used method of inltration test used
in many applications; i.e. design of land drainage pipes, design of sports
surfaces, golf courses, isolation layers of the communal waste, etc.
The inltrometer consists of two concentric metal rings (see Fig 1), which are
driven into the soil, and of a perforated metal plate.

The double ring inltrometer, wooden piece or something similar in order to
drive the rings into the soil, hammer, bucket, measuring jug, scissors, knife,
stopwatch, equipment for writing records, measuring tape, washcloth, and

Fig 1. Schema of the double ring inltrometer.

Measurement procedure
The measurement is taken in the inner cylinder; the outer cylinder is used only as a tool to ensure that water from the inner cylinder will
ow downwards and not laterally. The soil surface in the inner cylinder is covered by a perforated metal plate which is used in order to
dissipate the force of the applied water, to distribute water uniformly inside the ring and to prevent disturbance of the soil surface (see
Fig 1).

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Two nail points of dierent lengths are xed to the metal plate. These nail points are used for observation of decreasing water level
during the inltration. Both (inner and outer) cylinders are driven into the soil (to a depth of 1020 cm). It is recommended that the turf
around the rings' periphery is cut with a knife, the soil is then less disturbed by driving the rings into it. The metal plate is placed on the
soil surface in the inner cylinder, and water is poured into both cylinders (the water level in the inner cylinder should reach the upper nail

At this moment the stopwatch is started and the time needed for the water level to drop from the upper nail point to the lower nail
point is measured and recorded. After this elapsed time, a certain amount of water was inltrated (in this case 500 cm3). When the
water level reaches the lower nail point, the time is recorded and the same amount of water is poured back from a prepared graduated
bottle (500 cm3) (watch the video to see this procedure). The water level in the outer cylinder is kept at the same level as the water level
in the inner cylinder.

Results from the double ring inltrometer measurements can be taken only as directory information; however they can be considered as
accurate enough for many applications.

DATA RECORD and CALCULATION from the double ring inltrometer experiment
The measured data are recorded to a Data record form, like that on the righthand side. This form
includes the necessary parameters for our doublering inltrometer demonstrated in the video and the
photos. However, these parameters can be dierent for other double ring inltrometers.

The measured data i(t) are then plotted into a graph (mm paper in the eld or MS Excel) for the visual
check of the measured data.
The measured data are analysed based on the known Philips inltration equations (Philip, 1957):

where i(t) is cumulative inltration, S is sorptivity, t is time and A is a parameter

The measurement provided values of i and t in the equation (1), the parameters S and A need to be determined, so the line described by
equation (1) ts the measured points as well as possible. One of the widely used approximation methods, the method of the least
squares, can be applied in order to nd these unknown parameters A and S. When parameters A and S are known, inltration rate v can
be calculated for any given time according to the second of Philips equation (equation 2).
Steadystate inltration rate after a longer time of inltration (the line of the inltration rate is parallel to the horizontal axis of time)
remains constant and its value is close to the value of saturated hydraulic conductivity K. The following formula can be used:

where K is saturated hydraulic conductivity and m is a constant equal to 0.66667 (= 2/3)

The calculated value of K is then used for soil classication according to Tab. 1.

Example of data analysis

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See the table to the right. The measured data need to be prepared rst. A cumulative inltration
in bulk units needs to be recalculated by using an inltration area to the height of cumulative
inltration in length units. Then, we plot a graph and nd a linear part where the inltration is
steadystate (the yellow part of the table). The unknown parameters S and A from the equation
(1) will be calculated from that linear part by using the least squares method.
We can use the SOLVER function in MS Excel. (Find the Solver in Tools or activate it in Tools
Addons.) We have to nd the best straight line to t our measured linear part of data. This
means the sum of squared residuals must be as small as possible.
We put a formula into the column icumcalculated (the equation
1). The parameters S and A will be some initial values, for example 0,5
(the blue cells in the table). We put the squared dierence between cumulative inltration measured and calculated into a next column,
and the sum of these residuals, too. The cell containing the sum is then set up in Solver to be minimal. The cells which to be changed to
achieve the minimal sum of squared dierences are those contaning S and A parameters. We start solving. When everything is correct,
the optimal parameters S and A will be found to t our measured data. We will check on a graph (see Fig 2). We use the found
parameters to the calculation of the steadystate inltration rate and saturated hydraulic conductivity K.

Fig 2. Cumulative inltration and Inltration rate.

CSN 721020 Laboratorn stanoven propustnosti zemin (Czech standard)
Matula, S., Dirksen, C. 1989. Automated regulating and recording system for cylinder inltrometer. Soil Science Society of America
Journal 53:299302.
Parr, J.R., Bertrand, A.R. (1960) Water inltration into soils. Advances in Agronomy, 12, 311363.
Philip, J.R. (1957) The theory of inltration: 4. Sorptivity and algebraic inltration equations Soil Science 84, 257264.

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