Rainfed Mediterranean agriculture is characterized by low water input and by soil water content below its field capacity during most of the year. However, erratic rainfall distribution can lead to deep drainage. The understanding of soil-water dynamics is essential to prevent collateral impacts in subsuperficial waters by leached pollutants and to implement suitable soil management (e.g., agronomic measures to avoid nitrate leaching). Soil water dynamics during two fallow years and three barley crop seasons was evaluated using the Leaching estimation and chemistry model in a semiarid Mediterranean agricultural system. Model calibration was carried out using soil moisture data from disturbed soil samples and from capacitance probes installed at three depths. Drainage of water from the plots occurred in the fall and winter periods. The yearly low drainage values obtained (<15 mm) indicate that the estimated annual nitrate leaching is also small, regardless of the nature of the fertilizer applied (slurries or minerals). In fallow periods, there is a water recharge in the soil, which does not occur under barley cropping. However, annual fallow included in a winter cereal rotation, high nitrate residual soil concentrations (~80 mg NO3−
) and a period with substantial autumn-winter rains (70–90 mm) can enhance nitrate leaching, despite the semiarid climate.
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