Quantifying the contribution of tile drainage to basin-scale water yield using analytical and numerical models

Schilling, Keith E.
Gassman, Philip W.
Arenas-Amado, Antonio
Jones, Christopher S.
Arnold, Jeff
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Iowa Nutrient Research Center
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The Iowa Nutrient Research Center was established to pursue science-based approaches to evaluating the performance of current and emerging nutrient management practices and providing recommendations on practice implementation and development. Publications in this digital repository are products of INRC-funded research. The INRC is headquartered at Iowa State University and operates in collaboration with the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. Additional project information is available at: https://www.cals.iastate.edu/inrc/
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Center for Agricultural and Rural DevelopmentIowa Nutrient Research Center
The Des Moines Lobe (DML) of north-central Iowa has been artificially drained by subsurface drains and surface ditches to provide some of the most productive agricultural land in the world. Herein we report on the use of end-member mixing analysis (EMMA) models and the numerical model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to quantify the contribution of tile drainage to basin-scale water yields at various scales within the 2370 km2 Boone River watershed (BRW), a subbasin within the Des Moines River watershed. EMMA and SWAT methods suggested that tile drainage provided approximately 46 to 54% of annual discharge in the Boone River and during the March to June period, accounted for a majority of flow in the river. In the BRW subbasin of Lyons Creek, approximately 66% of the annual flow was sourced from tile drainage. Within the DML region, tile drainage contributes to basin-scale water yields at scales ranging from 40 to 16,000 km2, with downstream effects diminishing with increasing watershed size. Developing a better understanding of water sources contributing to river discharge is needed if mitigation and control strategies are going to be successfully targeted to reduce downstream nutrient export.
This article is published as Schilling, Keith E., Philip W. Gassman, Antonio Arenas-Amado, Christopher S. Jones, and Jeff Arnold. "Quantifying the contribution of tile drainage to basin-scale water yield using analytical and numerical models." Science of The Total Environment 657 (2019): 297-309. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.11.340. Posted with permission of INRC. Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.
Artificial drainage, Tiles, End member mixing analysis, EMMA, SWAT, Iowa, Agriculture