Effects of different land uses (abandoned farmland, intensive agriculture and forest) on soil hydrological properties in Southern Spain

Manuel Esteban Lucas-Borja, Demetrio Antonio Zema*, Pedro Antonio Plaza-álvarez, Vesna Zupanc, Jantiene Baartman, Javier Sagra, Javier González-Romero, Daniel Moya, Jorge de las Heras

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


A detailed knowledge of soil water repellency (SWR) and water infiltration capacity of soils under different land uses is of fundamental importance in Mediterranean areas, since these areas are prone to soil degradation risks (e.g., erosion, runoff of polluting compounds) as a response to different hydrological processes. The present study evaluates the effects of land uses on SWR and soil hydraulic conductivity (SHC) by direct measurements at the plot scale in three areas representing (1) intensive agricultural use, (2) abandoned farmland, and (3) a forest ecosystem in Southern Spain under Mediterranean climatic conditions. The physico-chemical properties and water content of the experimental soils were also measured. Significant SWR and SHC differences were found among the analyzed land uses. Forest soils showed high SWR and low SHC, while the reverse effects (that is, low SWR and high SHC) were detected in soils subjected to intensive agriculture. Organic matter and bulk density were important soil properties influencing SWR and SHC. The study, demonstrating how land uses can have important effects on the hydrological characteristics of soils, give land managers insights into the choice of the most suitable land use planning strategies in view of facing the high runoff and erosion rates typical of the Mediterranean areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number503
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2019



  • Soil hydrological conductivity
  • Soil physico-chemical properties
  • Soil water repellency
  • Vegetal cover
  • Vegetation cover

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