Soil Water Characteristics of Two Soil Catenas in Illinois:

Implications for Irrigation


Randall J. Schaetzl, L. Keith Hendrie, and Scott w. Kirsch


            Soil water was monitored by neutron scattering in six soils, three each within two drainage catenas in east-central Illinois, over a 15-month time span.  The prairie soils have formed in:  (1) 76-152 cm of silt loam, eolian sediments (loess) over glacial till (Catlin-Flanagan-Drummer catena), and (2) loess greater than 152 cm in thickness (Tama-Ipava-Sable catena).  We characterized the water content of these soils over the total time span and for wet and dry climatic subsets, as an aid to potential irrigation decisions.  Soils of the thin loess, C-F-D catena dried out to lower water contents and had greater soil water variability than did the thick loess soils.  Under wet conditions, soil water contents in the two catenas were quite similar.  Alleviation of surface and subsurface drying via irrigation would thus be more advantageous to yields on the C-F-D soils than on the T-I-S soils.