Criteria for the estimation of field capacity and their implications for the bucket type model

M. E. Turek, R. A. Armindo, O. Wendroth, I. Dos Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Field capacity (FC) is crucial for modelling soil–plant–water dynamics with bucket-type models, supporting prevention of environmental problems (e.g. chemical leaching to deeper layers and groundwater and waste of water resources). As FC measurement in situ is labour intensive, approaches for its estimation have been proposed. However, because they differ conceptually and are based on different assumptions, the response to an application (e.g. crop yield (CY) modelling) can be rather different. This study evaluated frequently used FC approaches in scenarios quantifying differences in behaviour of soil water and air retention, evapotranspiration (ET) and CY. Also, a soil texture-based pedotransfer function (PTF) was compared with other methods. Six sites with different soil types and management practices from tropical and temperate climates were investigated. Field capacity was estimated based on a static criterion using the water content (θ) at pressure heads (h) of 0.6, 1 and 3.3 m and at the inflection point (θ i ) of all water retention curves (SWRCs) and the Assouline and Or model (AO). Moreover, four equations found in the literature based on a dynamic criterion were also evaluated. For all soils, the largest FC results were obtained when θ i was set as FC. The smallest FC values were obtained with θ (3.3 m) (tropical) and AO (temperate). The coefficient of variation (CV) between FC estimates, based on nine approaches, ranged from 7 to 54%. Available water storage, air capacity (AC) and ET results were sensitive to FC and showed more variation for the Brazilian sites. The PTF used estimated FC within the range of results obtained by the other nine approaches. In addition, AquaCrop was used to study the effect of FC on CY by fixing all model parameters, whereas FC was the only flexible parameter. Crop yield was sensitive to the variation in FC under low and medium rainfall, but increased with larger FC. For high rainfall, the yield was small in a scenario with large θ fc because AC became yield limiting. Highlights: Different approaches can be used to estimate field capacity The criteria static and dynamic and a texture-based PTF were evaluated Sensitivity analyses were performed with parameters of bucket type model and crop yield simulations Results showed that management decisions differed according to field capacity criteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-290
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 British Society of Soil Science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Criteria for the estimation of field capacity and their implications for the bucket type model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this