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Double ring infiltrometer

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http://hydropedologie.agrobiologie.cz/en-dvouvalec.html

**Saturated hydraulic conductivity: Double ring inﬁltrometer
**

Block…

**Saturated hydraulic conductivity is one of the most important soil
**

hydrophysical characteristics. Its determination is needed for many

diﬀerent 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 non‐agricultural purposes, landﬁll foundation, sport

surfaces, etc.

It is also one of the main input parameters for models simulating

transport of water and solutes through the soil proﬁle.

The soils can be classiﬁed according to the scale described in Tab 1.

**Tab 1. Soil classiﬁcation table based on values of saturated hydraulic
**

conductivity K (according to the formerly valid Czech standard

CSN 721020)

Soil (according the relative

permeability)

**Approximate range of saturated hydraulic
**

conductivity (m s‐1)

Examples of soil types

Highly impermeable

< 10‐10

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

extremely high plasticity

Impermeable

from 10‐8 to 10‐10

**gravel loams, gravel clays and sandy clays, loams with
**

low and medium plasticity

Lowly (poorly) permeable

from 10‐6 to 10‐8

**sandy loams, loamy sands and clayey sands, loamy
**

gravels and clayey gravels

Permeable

from 10‐4 to 10‐6

**sands and gravels , containing ﬁne‐grained fraction
**

(5 – 15 %)

Highly permeable

> 10‐4

**sands and gravels without or with very low ﬁne grained
**

fraction (<5%)

**Double ring inﬁltrometer (Parr and Bertrand, 1960)
**

The double ring inﬁltrometer is a widely used method of inﬁltration 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 inﬁltrometer consists of two concentric metal rings (see Fig 1), which are

driven into the soil, and of a perforated metal plate.

Equipment

The double ring inﬁltrometer, 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

water.

Fig 1. Schema of the double ring inﬁltrometer.

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

ﬂow 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 diﬀerent lengths are ﬁxed to the metal plate. These nail points are used for observation of decreasing water level

during the inﬁltration. Both (inner and outer) cylinders are driven into the soil (to a depth of 10‐20 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

point).

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 inﬁltrated (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 inﬁltrometer 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 inﬁltrometer experiment
**

The measured data are recorded to a Data record form, like that on the right‐hand side. This form

includes the necessary parameters for our double‐ring inﬁltrometer demonstrated in the video and the

photos. However, these parameters can be diﬀerent for other double ring inﬁltrometers.

The measured data i(t) are then plotted into a graph (mm paper in the ﬁeld or MS Excel) for the visual

check of the measured data.

The measured data are analysed based on the known Philip’s inﬁltration equations (Philip, 1957):

**where i(t) is cumulative inﬁltration, 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) ﬁts 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 ﬁnd these unknown parameters A and S. When parameters A and S are known, inﬁltration rate v can

be calculated for any given time according to the second of Philip’s equation (equation 2).

Steady‐state inﬁltration rate after a longer time of inﬁltration (the line of the inﬁltration 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 classiﬁcation 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 ﬁrst. A cumulative inﬁltration
**

in bulk units needs to be recalculated by using an inﬁltration area to the height of cumulative

inﬁltration in length units. Then, we plot a graph and ﬁnd a linear part where the inﬁltration is

steady‐state (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 ‐

Add‐ons.) We have to ﬁnd the best straight line to ﬁt our measured linear part of data. This

means the sum of squared residuals must be as small as possible.

Block…

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 diﬀerence between cumulative inﬁltration 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 diﬀerences are those contaning S and A parameters. We start solving. When everything is correct,

the optimal parameters S and A will be found to ﬁt our measured data. We will check on a graph (see Fig 2). We use the found

parameters to the calculation of the steady‐state inﬁltration rate and saturated hydraulic conductivity K.

Fig 2. Cumulative inﬁltration and Inﬁltration rate.

References

CSN 721020 Laboratorní stanovení propustnosti zemin (Czech standard)

Matula, S., Dirksen, C. 1989. Automated regulating and recording system for cylinder inﬁltrometer. Soil Science Society of America

Journal 53:299‐302.

Parr, J.R., Bertrand, A.R. (1960) Water inﬁltration into soils. Advances in Agronomy, 12, 311‐363.

Philip, J.R. (1957) The theory of inﬁltration: 4. Sorptivity and algebraic inﬁltration equations Soil Science 84, 257‐264.

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