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Comparison of Evapotranspiration in Subsurface Drained and Undrained Fields in North Dakota

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1009554.(doi:10.13031/2013.29931)
Authors:   Ishara Rijal, Xinhua Jia, Dean D Steele, Thomas F Scherer, Xiaodong Zhang, Xiao Pang
Keywords:   Eddy covariance, actual evapotranspiration, subsurface drainage, shallow groundwater.

A field experiment is being conducted since the fall of 2007 to quantify the water balance and quality in a farm field at Fairmount, ND. The total area of the field is 44 ha, half of which had subsurface drainage (SSD) installed in fall of 2002 at approximately 1.1 m depth and with 18.2 m drain spacing. Corn (Zea Mays) was planted in 2009. Evapotranspiration rates (ETc), measured using eddy covariance (EC) systems, over both drained (SSD) and undrained (UD) fields were compared. The ETc values change with water table depth and soil moisture content, both of which were measured continuously in both SSD and UD portions of the field. Increased water table and higher soil moisture content in the spring resulted in a higher ETc in the UD field. But in the summer, the ETc in the SSD field was 11.5% higher than the UD, probably due to a healthier plant resulting from a well-ventilated field in the spring time. The ETc rates were about the same in both fields during the fall. Over the entire growing season (2 June to 18 November, 2009), the ETc in the SSD field was 8.5% higher, suggesting that subsurface drainage does lead to an improved water balance.

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