Incorporating preferential flow and herbicide fate and transport into the drainage model

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Kumar, Ajay
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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 DRAINAGE model was modified by incorporating a pesticide component and a preferential flow component in order to simulate pesticide concentrations in subsurface drain flows. Field data on subsurface drain flows and their atrazine concentrations were used to calibrate and validate the enhanced DRAINAGE model for growing seasons of 1990, 1991, and 1992. Simulated subsurface drain flows and their atrazine concentrations were compared with the measured values. Predicted daily flows by the modified DRAINAGE model were close to the observed values (difference over all years + 6.3%). Overall mean difference (Md) and correlation coefficient (R2) were + 0.1 mm and 0.70, respectively. The predicted atrazine concentrations in subsurface drainage water followed the observed trends well except in 1992. The overall timings of pesticide appearance in the drain water were predicted well by the model. The annual atrazine losses with subsurface drain flows predicted by the model were also in close agreement with the observed losses for 1990 and 1991 (with 1.1% difference). The results of this study indicated that the modified DRAINAGE model has good potential for simulating atrazine concentrations for normal rainfall years when a substantial amount of pesticides may be lost in the subsurface drainage water (overall Md = 2.03 ìg/kg and R2 = 0.58).


This article was published in Transactions of the ASAE 40(4): 977–985. Posted with permission.

Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 1997