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This study aims at monitoring the behaviour of the rainfall, runoff, drainage, soil water storage, and evapotranspiration variables involved in the water balance measured by lysimeter data. The evaluation of the water balance considered different time scales, where the components were monitored daily and in 10-day accumulated period intervals. The results demonstrated that in wet periods the soil water content was greater at a depth of 10 cm, whereas in the dry periods a greater concentration was observed at 70 cm depth. At the depth of 30 cm, the lowest values of soil water content were observed for both wet and dry periods. The results, obtained through the use of tensiometers and time domain reflectometry installed internally and externally to the lysimeter, were very close, which was more noticeable during the periods of lower water loss by the soil. The water balance, calculated from the lysimeter data, demonstrated that 70% of the total rainfall was lost by the process of evapotranspiration. The drainage accounted for 27·5% of the precipitated water, highlighting the fact that this component should not be disregarded in the water balance calculation. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.