Modeling Flow and Solute Transport in Irrigation Furrows

Naftali Lazarovitch, D. Zerihun, C. A. Sanchez, A. W. Warrick, A.J Clemmens , E Bautista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents an internally coupled flow and solute transport model for free-draining irrigation furrows. Furrow hydraulics is simulated with a numerical zero-inertia model and solute transport is computed with a numerical cross-section averaged advection-dispersion model. A procedure for integrating the furrow volumetric cumulative intake integral in the context of a hydraulic model is presented. Two hydraulic and solute transport data sets collected in sloping free-draining test furrows were used in model evaluation. Soil intake and hydraulic parameters were estimated with a simple approach that matches simulated and measured flow depth hydrographs. The field-scale Weighted Mean Relative Residual (WMRR) between measured and model predicted flow depth hydrographs are 22.0% and 29.0% for the two data set. Furthermore, it is shown that the WMRR of 29.0% reduces to 16.0%, when only the error associated with the downstream end computational node is excluded. This suggests that a significant fraction of the error is related to the form of the downstream boundary condition used. It also shows that the effect of the downstream boundary condition does not extend to a large segment of the flow upstream. The longitudinal dispersion coefficient is approximated with an explicit equation as a function of the hydraulic and geometric variables. Model evaluation is conducted in three steps: (1) cumulative intakes and intake rates computed with the numerical formulation presented here were compared with a subsurface flow model, HYDRUS-2D; (2) solute breakthrough curves computed with the coupled flow and transport model were compared with those from exact analytical solutions for applicable conditions; and (3) model predicted solute breakthrough curves were compared with those obtained from field measurements. Overall the results suggest that the coupled flow and transport model is a useful irrigation and fertigation system management and evaluation tool.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalJournal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • Furrow
  • Infiltration modeling
  • Hydraulic models
  • Solute transport model
  • Coupled model


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