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Praktikum: Field and lab soil physical experiments (Lab part of UPT7, MSc) (2)

SS 2024

Frederic Leuther, Efstathios Diamantopoulos

Environmental Soil Physics is an interdisciplinary course that explores the fundamental principles and processes governing the physical behavior of soils within the context of environmental systems. The course comprises both theoretical and laboratory components, where the following topics are covered: soil hydraulic properties, soil structure, water flow in soils: i) macropore flow; ii) evaporation; iii) transpiration; and reactive transport of chemicals in soils. Special emphasis is placed on understanding soil physical processes in relation to the temporal and spatial scales, as well as their description using fundamental theories. Participation in both courses is mandatory.

Laboratory Part: Field and lab soil physical experiments

In the laboratory part, students collaborate with lecturers to design and execute an experimental campaign, setting up laboratory experiments to quantify different physical processes. The data from the laboratory part will be the basis for testing different theories in the theoretical part. The following physical measurements will be conducted:

  • Characterization of Soil Hydraulic Properties from saturation to oven dryness
  • Characterization of Soil Structure and its effect on soil hydraulic properties
  • Water flow experiments under steady-state and transient conditions
  • Drying out experiments and quantification of root water uptake
  • Evaporation experiments
  • Solute transport experiments for well and poorly structured soils

Course Objectives


  • Soil physical indicators: from sampling to lab measurements and modelling.
  • Acquire advanced theoretical knowledge of the main physical methods.
  • Deep knowledge on the measurement principles of each instrument.


  • Conduct soil physical experiments with modern instruments.
  • Work independently in a soil physics laboratory.
  • Data science skills with emphasis in parameter estimation.


  • Assess how soil physical processes affect chemical and biological processes and design the correct experiments.
  • Assess soils with respect to soil functions.
  • Evaluate how land use affects the main soil physical processes and their interactions.

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