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DRAINMOD Simulation of Corn Yield under Different Tile Drain Spacing in the Canadian Prairies

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

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 58(6): 1481-1491. (doi: 10.13031/trans.58.10768) @2015
Authors:   Marcos R. C. Cordeiro, Ramanathan Sri Ranjan
Keywords:   Cold climate, Corn yield, DRAINMOD, Subsurface drainage.

Abstract. The use of modeling in an agricultural context under cold climates is challenging because of processes such as freezing, thawing, and snowmelt, which have significant effects on field hydrology. DRAINMOD is one of the most widely used models for design and performance evaluation of drainage systems and has routines that represent cold-region hydrological processes. The objectives of this research were to validate DRAINMOD simulations of water table depth and drainage outflow under conditions prevailing in the Canadian Prairies and to use this model to evaluate the design criteria usually adopted in Manitoba. The dataset from one growing season was used to calibrate the model for water table depth and drainage outflow. Two additional growing seasons of data were used for validation. One year of data was used for model warm-up prior to the calibration year. The Nash-Sutcliffe modeling efficiency (EF) ranged from 0.79 to 0.95 for water table and from 0.60 to 0.70 for drainage outflow simulations. The normalized percent error (NPE) ranged from 3.9% to 14.5% for drainage simulations, while the mean absolute error (MAE) ranged from 4.8 to 9.3 cm for water table simulations. Evaluation of drainage designs suggested for Manitoba using a 20-year dataset indicated that the design criteria generally adopted in this province (i.e., 0.9 m depth and 15 m spacing) need not be widely used across different soil types. For the sandy loam soils used in this study, a maximum drain spacing of 40 m could be used without significant yield losses. Simulated yields were found to be more sensitive to excess moisture conditions at the beginning of the growing season.

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