Modeling of transpiration reduction in van Genuchten-Mualem type soils

Q.D. van Lier, D.D. Neto, K. Metselaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


We derive an analytic expression for the matric flux potential (M) for van Genuchten-Mualem (VGM) type soils which can also be written in terms of a converging infinite series. Considering the first four terms of this series, the accuracy of the approximation was verified by comparing it to values of M estimated by numerical finite difference integration. Using values of the parameters for three soils from different texture classes, the proposed four-term approximation showed an almost perfect match with the numerical solution, except for effective saturations higher than 0.9. Including more terms reduced the discrepancy but also increased the complexity of the equation. The four-term equation can be used for most applications. Cases with special interest in nearly saturated soils should include more terms from the infinite series. A transpiration reduction function for use with the VGM equations is derived by combining the derived expression for M with a root water extraction model. The shape of the resulting reduction function and its dependency on the derivative of the soil hydraulic diffusivity D with respect to the soil water content theta is discussed. Positive and negative values of dD/d theta yield concave and convex or S-shaped reduction functions, respectively. On the basis of three data sets, the hydraulic properties of virtually all soils yield concave reduction curves. Such curves based solely on soil hydraulic properties do not account for the complex interactions between shoot growth, root growth, and water availability
Original languageEnglish
Article numberW02422
Number of pages9
JournalWater Resources Research
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • unsaturated porous-media
  • root-water-uptake
  • hydraulic conductivity
  • numerical-simulation
  • steady infiltration
  • shape index
  • retention
  • stress
  • flow
  • approximation

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