Evaluation of X-ray computed tomography for quantifying macroporosity of loamy pasture soils

M. A. Rab, R. E. Haling, S. R. Aarons, M. Hannah, I. M. Young, D. Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Macropores are important pathways for rapid infiltration of water into soil as large soil pores allow roots, air, and water to penetrate into the soil. Soil compaction due to dairy cattle trampling may reduce soil macroporosity to the extent that growth or even survival of roots is limited by oxygen availability and soil strength. This study aims to evaluate the feasibility of X-ray computed tomography (CT) for determining macroporosity in dairy pasture soils and to assess the effects of sample volume (both within and between cores of varying sizes) and locations (i.e. site and soil depth) on measures of porosity. Undisturbed soil cores (50 and 65. mm diameter) were collected from two depths (0 to 10. cm and 20 to 30. cm) and from three sampling sites (representing moderately to highly trafficked zones) within a commercial dairy paddock. The intact soil cores were scanned at three resolutions (30, 109 and 138. μm) using X-ray CT, and porosity and mean pore diameter measured in various volumes of these scans. Porosity and mean pore diameter decreased with depth but did not differ across the three sampling sites; this was consistent with measures of porosity based on a traditional bulk density based method and soil water retention curves. There was no significant (P. >. 0.05) effect of analysing porosity at increasing distances from the core edge. Likewise, increasing the volume of soil that was analysed within each core was not found to have a significant (P. >. 0.05) effect on macroporosity. However, mean pore diameter was found to significantly (P.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-470
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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