In Europe, the establishment of short rotation coppice (SRC) systems for biomass production has been expanding in the last decades. Besides, that several studies have considered the impacts of SRC on soil properties, only a few have addressed physical and hydraulic properties. This study reports the assessment of soil physical and hydraulic properties on three SRC sites of the Dendromass4EU project. All sites contain a comparable sandy loam soil texture and differ only in the groundwater accessibility.
Water infiltration experiments were conducted in the field with subsequent sampling of the upper topsoil (0–5 cm depth). The hydraulic functions were fitted by using the bimodal version of Kosugi-Mualem’s hydraulic model to estimate the pore-size distribution (PSD) of the soils.
The findings suggest that under favourable conditions, SRC plantations, even in early stages, may have a beneficial impact on the upper topsoil properties in contrast to conventional cropland, likely overcoming the effect of machinery compaction.