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  • Author or Editor: I. Czinkota x
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Soil texture is an important input parameter for many soil hydraulic pedotransfer functions (PTFs) of the day. Common soil particle-size classes are required to be able to uniformly determine the texture of soils. However, it is not always possible - due to different national classification systems - and much valuable information is disregarded while either deriving or applying PTFs. One way to get common particle-size class information is to interpolate the particle-size distribution (PSD) curve. Advanced interpolation solutions are becoming available, but there is always uncertainty associated with these techniques. Another possibility is to measure all PSD curves in such a way that it is compatible to the commonly used classification systems. A new automated measurement technique is introduced that can easily provide PSD data compatible to any (and all) of the existing national and international classification systems at the same time, without the burden of extra labour. A computerized measurement system has been developed to record density changes in a settling-tube system in any discretional (small) time steps, which in turn allows the derivation of a quasi-continuous PSD curve. The measurement is based on areometry (Stokes-law), thus the system is compatible to the most commonly applied settling-tube measurements. The new evaluation method of measured values takes into consideration the density changes along the areometer-body so it avoids the problem of reference point determination. The theory and setup of the system are explained and measurement examples are given. The presented comparative measurements show good correspondence with conventional settling-tube results, and the reproducibility of the measurement shows to be very high. This technique does not require more sample preparation than past methods. The automated reading requires less manpower to perform the measurement - which also reduces human error sources. However, it provides very detailed PSD data that has advantages, like revealing multi-modality in the particle-size distribution or providing data that complies with any of the classification systems.

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Particle size distribution (PSD) is one of the most important fundamental physical properties of soils, as it determines their physical, chemical, mechanical, geotechnical, moreover environmental behaviour. Although the measurement of PSD with different techniques is commonly performed in soil laboratories, their automation and continuous PSD curve generation have not been solved yet.  However, there are some physical principles, various sensors and different data storing methods for measuring the density-time function. In the present paper a possible solution is introduced for the measurement of the soil particle density database as a function of settling time. The equipment used for this purpose is an areometer that is widely used e.g. for determining the sugar content of must, or the alcohol content of distilled spirits, etc. The device is equipped with patent pending capacitive sensors on the neck of the areometer. It measures the changes in the water levels nearby the neck of the areometer in 1 μm units with <10 μm accuracy. The typical water level changes are 3-5 cm, which makes possible a very accurate determination of particle density changes due to settling in particle size analysis. The measured signals are stored in the equipment's memory and can be downloaded to the controller computer via a modified USB port. Data evaluation can be carried out online or later. The large number of measured data points led to the introduction of a new evaluation method, the Method of FInite Tangents or shortly the “FIT Method”. The dispersed soil particle system is considered as the aggregation of many mono-disperse systems. From this it follows that the measured density-time function can be divided into grain size fractions with tangent lines drawn to finite, but optional points. These tangent lines are suitable for calculating the settling speed of a given fraction, as the changing speed of density is equal to the multiplication of settling speed and mass of the given grain size fraction. The settling speed of all fractions is calculable by using the Stokes law, so the mass of all of the floating fraction can be calculated. Because the soil suspension is a poly-disperse system, the measured density decrease can be considered as an integration of finite mono-disperse systems. From this, it follows that it can be interpreted as the sum of linear density vs. time functions. If the mass of each grain size fraction is known, the particle size distribution is calculable. The method is relatively easily programmed and the intervals of grain size fractions are freely adjustable, so with this program almost all types of particle size distribution are calculable, not only those being uniform. Using the appropriate controller and evaluation program, soil particle size distribution can be calculated immediately after downloading the measured data. This technique does not need more sample preparation than past methods. The automated reading lessens the manpower required for performing the measurement - which also reduces human error sources - and provides very detailed PSD data that has advantages, among others, like revealing multi-modality in the particle-size distribution.

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A complex investigation was performed for a polluted area using both experi-mental and computer modelling methods. Among the experimental methods the adsorption and desorption isotherms were measured to estimate the concentration dependent equilibrium in the soil-groundwater system. A new calculation method was worked out for determining the transport para-meters from results of laboratory tests. Heavy metal solution was leached through a soil column continuously. The effluent fluidum was collected, and the heavy metal concentration of the collected fractions was measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometer. As the result of the analytic process breakthrough curves were measured in laboratory scale. Due to the applied initial and boundary conditions the transport equation can be solved analytically. Using the Ogata and Banks (1961) solution of the transport equation a new curve fitting method was introduced. After several transformations of the equation a theoretical function was fitted to the measured concentration vs. time and to the concentration vs. effluent volume data. The parameters of the fitted curve could be used as the dispersion and retardation parameters of a transport model.  The water chemistry of the system controls the rate of adsorption and desorption of metals to and from sediment. Adsorption removes the metal from the water column and stores the metal in the substrate. Desorption returns the metal to the water column, where recirculation and bioassimilation may occur. Metals are probably desorbed from the soil if the salt concentration of the water increases, and in case of some metals decreases with the redox potential and with pH.  Parallel to determining the basic transport parameters of the system using the column study, the maximal equilibrium concentration of chromium-containing compounds with different oxidation states were calculated with the MINTEQ model with two variable functions (pH and redox potential). As a result of the calculations a non-liner relation was established, as at specific points the maximal equilibrium concentration of chromium increases with a high gradient. This means that there are combinations of pH and redox potential values in the case of which chromium has a high solubility. It is advisable to avoid these points in the pH-E h field if we want to stabilize the contaminant. This state is to be reached when the goal is the mobilization of the pollutant to make the soil cleaning process possible. With the introduced calculation method areas on the pH-redox potential field (at high pH and E h values) are found in which the concentration of pollutants may reach a critical value. The introduced calculation method is quick and gives results accurate enough for a pilot test.

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The effects of genotypes, nutrient and water supply on the dry matter production and potassium uptake dynamics of maize (Zea mays L.) were studied on chernozem soil in the Debrecen-Látókép long-term field experiment (Eastern Hungary).According to the experimental results and calculations it can be concluded that — in addition to the previously used and considered soil and plant nutrient contents — the calculation of the plant-extracted nutrient amount (depending on the applied hybrid, NPK nutrient levels and water supply) is suggested to enable the characterization of the growth and nutrient demand dynamics of maize genotypes. This parameter gives information not only about the available nutrient amount at a given sampling time, but about the supply level of plants up to the sampling time as well. For the proper characterization of the mentioned dynamics of maize plants authors suggest to take the following sampling times into consideration: the intensive vegetative growth period, the switch between the vegetative and generative growth phases (silking), and the grain filling phase.

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