Simulating NO3-N Transport to Subsurface Drain Flows as Affected by Tillage Under Continuous Corn Using Modified RZWQM

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Singh, Piyush
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Kanwar, Rameshwar
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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The Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM) was previously modified to simulate subsurface drain flows and evaluate the impact of different tillage systems on subsurface drain flows (Singh and Kanwar, 1994). This article discusses further modifications made in the RZWQM to simulate nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) concentrations and NO3-N losses with subsurface drain flows. Daily NO3-N concentrations were simulated in subsurface drain flows under four different tillage systems: chisel plow (CP), moldboard plow (MB), no-tillage (NT), and ridge-tillage (RT) by using the modified RZWQM. Simulations were conducted for the growing seasons of three years (1990 to 1992). Simulated NO3-N concentrations and losses with subsurface drain flows were compared with the measured data obtained from a water quality research site at Nashua, Iowa. Predicted NO3-N concentrations generally followed the same pattern as the observed concentrations. Simulated annual average NO3-N concentrations in subsurface drain flows were within 11% (averaged over all three years) of observed annual average NO3-N concentrations in subsurface drain flows. The model correctly predicted maximum concentrations under MB treatment and minimum under NT for all three years. Simulated annual NO3-N losses were within 14% (averaged over all three years) of observed annual NO3-N losses. Various NO3-N transformation processes need to be calibrated as a function of tillage system to improve model performance.


This article is from Transactions of the ASAE. 38(2): 499-506. doi:10.13031/2013.27858. Posted with permission.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 1995