Using lysimeters

Lysimeters comes from nutrient research in agriculture where people have studied the leaching of soil nutrients under crops. However, lysimeters have more to offer. In combination with precipitation data, their change in weight and the amount of percolation water seeping into a reservoir permit us to solve the water balance equation in the field. Here is an example from a practical application.

A short dense ground cover, due to controlled grazing, reduces vapour loss, enhances drainage without erosion risk and thus produces a significantly higher catchment yield. The difference in electrical energy produced for a water column 1000 m in elevation is close to US $ 100 per ha of grazed alpine grassland.

1 - Three lysimeters in alpine grassland in the Hohe Tauern region (2300 m, Austria). Note these containers are normally in the ground and were only taken out for the photograph.