Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

James A. Thompson.


Preferential flow is a mechanistic description of water movement in a soil profile where much of the soil matrix is bypassed during periods of rapid infiltration. The occurrence of preferential flow could lead to the movement of phosphorus (P) down through the soil profile. The objectives of this research were (i) to verify the presence of preferential flow in benchmark West Virginia soil series and (ii) measure soil test phosphorus (STP) levels within the preferential flow pathways and the surrounding soil matrix to determine the effects of preferential flow on phosphorus distribution within the soil profile. A non-reactive dye (Brilliant Blue FD&C) was applied in a ponding application to identify the preferential flow pathways in selected benchmark soil series in pasture management schemes with long-term historical applications of animal waste. The dye applications were excavated and digital images of the preferential flow pathways were taken. Soil samples from the stained (preferential flow paths) and unstained (surrounding soil matrix) portions of the soil profile were collected within each pedogenic horizon and analyzed for STP. All selected series, exhibited preferential flow. STP levels were statistically higher (p=<0.05) in the stained soil matrix.