Estimating field-scale soil water dynamics at a heterogeneous site using multi-channel GPR
We explore the feasibility to quantify the field-scale soil water dynamics through time series of GPR (ground-penetrating radar) measurements, which bridge the gap between point measurements and field measurements. Working on a 40 m × 50 m area in a heterogeneous agricultural field, we obtain a time series of radargrams after a heavy rainfall event. The data are analysed to simultaneously yield (i) a three-dimensional representation of the subsurface architecture and (ii) the total soil water volume between the surface and a reflection boundary associated with the presence of paleo sand dunes or clay inclusions in a rather uniform sand matrix. We assess the precision and the accuracy of these quantities and conclude that the method is sensitive enough to capture the spatial structure of the changing soil water content in a three-dimensional heterogeneous soil during a short-duration infiltration event. While the sensitivity of the method needs to be improved, it already produced useful information to understand the observed patterns in crop height and it yielded insight into the dynamics of soil water content at this site including the effect of evaporation.