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Water 2017, 9(7), 509; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9070509

Assessing the Efficacy of the SWAT Auto-Irrigation Function to Simulate Irrigation, Evapotranspiration, and Crop Response to Management Strategies of the Texas High Plains

1
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University, 2138 TAMU, College Station, TX 77845, USA
2
USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory, 2300 Experiment Station Rd., P.O. Drawer 10, Bushland, TX 79012, USA
3
Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 6500 Amarillo Blvd W Amarillo, TX 79106, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 May 2017 / Revised: 29 June 2017 / Accepted: 7 July 2017 / Published: 12 July 2017
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Abstract

In the semi-arid Texas High Plains, the underlying Ogallala Aquifer is experiencing continuing decline due to long-term pumping for irrigation with limited recharge. Accurate simulation of irrigation and other associated water balance components are critical for meaningful evaluation of the effects of irrigation management strategies. Modelers often employ auto-irrigation functions within models such as the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). However, some studies have raised concerns as to whether the function is able to adequately simulate representative irrigation practices. In this study, observations of climate, irrigation, evapotranspiration (ET), leaf area index (LAI), and crop yield derived from an irrigated lysimeter field at the USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory at Bushland, Texas were used to evaluate the efficacy of the SWAT auto-irrigation functions. Results indicated good agreement between simulated and observed daily ET during both model calibration (2001–2005) and validation (2006–2010) periods for the baseline scenario (Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency; NSE ≥ 0.80). The auto-irrigation scenarios resulted in reasonable ET simulations under all the thresholds of soil water deficit (SWD) triggers as indicated by NSE values > 0.5. However, the auto-irrigation function did not adequately represent field practices, due to the continuation of irrigation after crop maturity and excessive irrigation when SWD triggers were less than the static irrigation amount. View Full-Text
Keywords: SWAT; evapotranspiration; irrigation magnitude; irrigation frequency; lysimeters; leaf area index (LAI); crop yield; soil water deficit threshold; single-HRU method SWAT; evapotranspiration; irrigation magnitude; irrigation frequency; lysimeters; leaf area index (LAI); crop yield; soil water deficit threshold; single-HRU method
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Chen, Y.; Marek, G.W.; Marek, T.H.; Brauer, D.K.; Srinivasan, R. Assessing the Efficacy of the SWAT Auto-Irrigation Function to Simulate Irrigation, Evapotranspiration, and Crop Response to Management Strategies of the Texas High Plains. Water 2017, 9, 509.

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