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Estimating Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity from Soil Physical Properties using Neural Networks Model

Authors: B. Ghanbarian-Alavijeh, A.M. Liaghat, S. Sohrabi


Saturated hydraulic conductivity is one of the soil hydraulic properties which is widely used in environmental studies especially subsurface ground water. Since, its direct measurement is time consuming and therefore costly, indirect methods such as pedotransfer functions have been developed based on multiple linear regression equations and neural networks model in order to estimate saturated hydraulic conductivity from readily available soil properties e.g. sand, silt, and clay contents, bulk density, and organic matter. The objective of this study was to develop neural networks (NNs) model to estimate saturated hydraulic conductivity from available parameters such as sand and clay contents, bulk density, van Genuchten retention model parameters (i.e. r θ , α , and n) as well as effective porosity. We used two methods to calculate effective porosity: : (1) eff s FC φ =θ -θ , and (2) inf φ =θ -θ eff s , in which s θ is saturated water content, FC θ is water content retained at -33 kPa matric potential, and inf θ is water content at the inflection point. Total of 311 soil samples from the UNSODA database was divided into three groups as 187 for the training, 62 for the validation (to avoid over training), and 62 for the test of NNs model. A commercial neural network toolbox of MATLAB software with a multi-layer perceptron model and back propagation algorithm were used for the training procedure. The statistical parameters such as correlation coefficient (R2), and mean square error (MSE) were also used to evaluate the developed NNs model. The best number of neurons in the middle layer of NNs model for methods (1) and (2) were calculated 44 and 6, respectively. The R2 and MSE values of the test phase were determined for method (1), 0.94 and 0.0016, and for method (2), 0.98 and 0.00065, respectively, which shows that method (2) estimates saturated hydraulic conductivity better than method (1).

Keywords: Neural network, Saturated hydraulic conductivity, Soil physical properties.

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