A review of the methods available for estimating soil moisture and its implications for water resource management
Dobriyal, P., A. Qureshi, R. Badola, and S.A. Hussain, 2012: “A review of the methods available for estimating soil moisture and its implications for water resource management.” Journal of Hydrology, vv. 458-459, pp. 110-117, doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.06.021.
The maintenance of elevated soil moisture is an important ecosystem service of the natural ecosystems. Understanding the patterns of soil moisture distribution is useful to a wide range of agencies concerned with the weather and climate, soil conservation, agricultural production and landscape management. However, the great heterogeneity in the spatial and temporal distribution of soil moisture and the lack of standard methods to estimate this property limit its quantification and use in research. This literature based review aims to (i) compile the available knowledge on the methods used to estimate soil moisture at the landscape level, (ii) compare and evaluate the available methods on the basis of common parameters such as resource efficiency, accuracy of results and spatial coverage and (iii) identify the method that will be most useful for forested landscapes in developing countries. On the basis of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the methods reviewed we conclude that the direct method (gravimetric method) is accurate and inexpensive but is destructive, slow and time consuming and does not allow replications thereby having limited spatial coverage. The suitability of indirect methods depends on the cost, accuracy, response time, effort involved in installation, management and durability of the equipment. Our review concludes that measurements of soil moisture using the Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) methods are instantaneously obtained and accurate. GPR may be used over larger areas (up to 500 × 500 m a day) but is not cost-effective and difficult to use in forested landscapes in comparison to TDR. This review will be helpful to researchers, foresters, natural resource managers and agricultural scientists in selecting the appropriate method for estimation of soil moisture keeping in view the time and resources available to them and to generate information for efficient allocation of water resources and maintenance of soil moisture regime.