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Using AnnAGNPS to predict the effects of tile drainage control on nutrient and sediment loads for a river basin

Que, Z., Seidou, O., Droste, R.L., Wilkes, G., Sunohara, M., Topp, E., Lapen, D.R. (2015). Using AnnAGNPS to predict the effects of tile drainage control on nutrient and sediment loads for a river basin, 44(2), 629-641.


© American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. Controlled tile drainage (CTD) can reduce pollutant loading. The Annualized Agricultural Nonpoint Source model (AnnAGNPS version 5.2) was used to examine changes in growing season discharge, sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus loads due to CTD for a ~3900-km2 agriculturally dominated river basin in Ontario, Canada. Two tile drain depth scenarios were examined in detail to mimic tile drainage control for flat cropland: 600 mm depth (CTD600) and 200 mm (CTD200) depth below surface. Summed for five growing seasons (CTD600), direct runoff, total N, and dissolved N were reduced by 6.6, 3.5, and 13.7%, respectively. However, five seasons of summed total P, dissolved P, and total suspended solid loads increased as a result of CTD600 by 0.96, 1.6, and 0.23%. The AnnAGNPS results were compared with mass fluxes observed from paired experimental watersheds (250, 470 ha) in the river basin. The "test" experimental watershed was dominated by CTD and the "reference" watershed by free drainage. Notwithstanding environmental/land use differences between the watersheds and basin, comparisons of seasonal observed and predicted discharge reductions were comparable in 100% of respective cases. Nutrient load comparisons were more consistent for dissolved, relative to particulate water quality endpoints. For one season under corn crop production, AnnAGNPS predicted a 55% decrease (CTD600) in dissolved N from the basin. AnnAGNPS v. 5.2 treats P transport from a surface pool perspective, which is appropriate for many systems. However, for assessment of tile drainage management practices for relatively flat tile-dominated systems, AnnAGNPS may benefit from consideration of P and particulate transport in the subsurface.

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