Electrical conductivity (EC) is a measurement of the dissolved material in an aqueous solution, which relates to the ability of the material to conduct electrical current through it. The higher the dissolved material in a water or soil sample, the higher the EC will be in that material.( Monica Z. Bruckner, Montana State University, Bozeman) Electrical conductivity (EC) which is the ability of a material to transmit (conduct) an electrical current is commonly expressed in units of milliSiemens per meter (mS/m). Soil EC measurements may also be reported in units of deciSiemens per meter (dS/m), which is equal to the reading in mS/m divided by 100. Therefore Soil electrical conductivity (EC) is a property of soil that is determined by standardized measures of soil conductance (resistance-1) by the distance and cross sectional area through which a current travels. Traditionally, soil paste EC has been used to assess soil salinity (Rhoades et al., 1989), but now commercial devices are available to rapidly and economically measure and map bulk soil EC across agricultural fields. The Veris® 3100 (Veris Technologies, Salina, Kansas) measures EC with a system of coulters that are in direct contact with the soil. The EM38 (Geonics, Limited, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) induces a current into the soil with one coil and determines conductivity by measuring the resulting secondary current with another coil. Both sensors have been demonstrated to give similar results (Suddeth et al., 1999) The movement of electrons through bulk soil is complex. Electrons may travel through soil water in macropores, along the surfaces of soil minerals (i.e. exchangeable ions), and through alternating layers of particles and solution (Rhoades et al., 1989). Therefore, multiple factors contribute to soil EC variability, including factors that affect the amount and connectivity of soil water (e.g. bulk density, structure, water potential, precipitation, timing of measurement), soil aggregation (e.g. cementing agents such as clay and organic matter, soil structure), electrolytes in soil water (e.g. salinity, exchangeable ions, soil water content, soil temperature), and the conductivity of the mineral phase (e.g. types and quantity of minerals, degree of isomorphic substitution, exchangeable ions). Despite the multiple causes of EC variability, bulk soil EC measurements have been related to individual factors that limit soil use and productivity such as salinity (De Jong et al., 1979; Rhoades and Corwin, 1981), clay content at a depth of 15-m in New Wales, Australia (r2 = 0.78; Williams and Hoey, 1987), depth of sand deposition along the Missouri River (r2 = 0.73-0.94; Kitchen et al, 1996), depth to claypan in Missouri (r2 = 0.73; Doolittle et al., 1994), and soil moisture content (r2 = 0.96; Kachanoski et al., 1988). The electrical conductivity of soils varies depending on the amount of moisture held by soil particles. Sands have a low conductivity, silts have a medium conductivity, and clays have a high conductivity. Consequently, EC correlates strongly to soil particle size and texture. If soil EC maps have utility in production agriculture, 1) EC must be spatially structured, 2) spatial patterns must have temporal stability, and 3) EC must be related to factors of agronomic importance..
Relationship between soil properties and soil electrical conductivity(EC) Salinity: An excess of dissolved salts in the soil is readily detected by electrical conductivity. Salinity is a soil property referring to the amount of soluble salt in the soil. It is generally a problem of arid and semiarid regions. Electrical conductivity (EC) is the most common measure of soil salinity and is indicative of the ability of an aqueous solution to carry an electric current. Plants are detrimentally affected, both physically and chemically, by excess salts in some soils and by high levels of exchangeable sodium in others. Soils with an accumulation of...
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