عنوان مقاله [English]
Background and objectives: Soil Water Repellency (SWR) is one of the dynamic soil characteristics that either reduce water penetration in the soil or prevent it. In the northern forest areas of Iran, fire is one of the most important environmental concerns and one of the main factors of the change in soil water repellency phenomenon. Therefore, this study aims to investigate prescribed fire effect on the soil of forest areas of Toshen's watershed, temporal variability and its interaction with physical and chemical properties of soil in Golestan Province.
Materials and methods: Soil of forest areas in the slope class of 15-30% and depth of 0-5 cm of soil surface was studied in 30 replications in laboratory. Physical and chemical properties of soil, including percent of clay, silt and sand, soil organic matter, pH, EC and aggregate stability (MWD) were investigated before and after fire. In order to study the effects of fire on soil water repellency in laboratory conditions, prescribed fire was applied. SWR was determined with Water Drop Penetration Time and Molarity of an Ethanol Droplet tests, before and after fire.
Results: According to the WDPT test, before the fire, 100% of plots were wettable (class 1), but one day after the fire, 100% of the plots were showed slightly water repellent (class 2 and 3). The MED test showed that all plots were wettable (class 0) before the fire. One day after the fire, the intensity of SWR increased, so that 30, 50 and 20 % of the plots were slightly water repellent (class 1), moderately water repellent (class 2) and less strongly water repellent (class 3), respectively. Investigating the process of temporal variability of both SWR indices showed that the SWR class after the fire is temporary and up to one month after that, the SWR classes is greatly reduced. The results showed that there are good correlations between two post-fire hydrophobic tests. (R2=0.85). There was a moderate correlation between two WDPT and MED SWR tests with pH, EC, MWD and soil organic matter, but as for soil texture components, there was poor correlation. Relatively poor SWR correlations with soil physical and chemical characteristics indicate that these changes are not likely to be the main cause of SWR changes. Some of these changes can be explained by the variability of aggregate stability after the fire. These changes in the mechanical stability of the soil structure can be caused by two main mechanisms: (1) Changes in the composition of the solid components in the soil that increase the cohesion forces between the particles in the aggregates. Consequently, the stability of the soil structure against the physically destructive forces increases. (2) Changes in the physicochemical properties of the soil solution (an increase in the EC) that prevent clay dispersion and microaggregate destruction (physicochemical mechanism).
Conclusion: Finally, the results of this study showed that despite the high wettability in loess soils, fire can be an external factor that causes a weak and immediate increase in SWR. The slightly soil water repellent may be due to the following: (i) SWR often occur in coarse soils with high organic matter. (ii) The samples were taken from the soil surface layer (0-5 cm), while the fire can cause some organic matter to accumulate in the subsurface layers and cause SWR on lower horizons.