ANDOSOLS LAND USE SOIL WATER RETENTION HYDROLOGY VOLCANIC ASH SOILS ECUADOR
The effect of land use on the water retention capacity of Umbric Andosols in south Ecuador was studied. The objective was to acquire a better insight into the hydrological processes of the ecosystem and the role of the soil, in order to assess the impact of changing soil properties due to land use change on the hydrology of the high Andes region. Field data on the water retention capacity at wilting point of Umbric Andosols were collected for both cultivated field conditions and original bush vegetation. The pH in water and in NaF, texture, organic matter content and dry bulk density were measured to show which physicochemical soil characteristics are responsible for the water retention of the Umbric Andosols and for the irreversible loss in water retention due to air drying. Organic matter content appears to be very important and certainly more important than allophane clay content. Water retention of the organic litter layer was calculated to be 16 mm, this would be lost when vegetation was cleared and the land cultivated.