Simulating the impact of drainage design in a cold climate with adapt

Aida Mendez, Gary R. Sands, Bérangère Basin, Chang Xing Jin, Paul J. Wotzka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Surface and subsurface drainage make crop production economically viable in much of southern Minnesota because drainage allows timely field operations and protects field crops from extended periods of flooded soil conditions. However, subsurface drainage has been shown to increase nitrate/nitrogen losses to receiving waters. When engaging in drainage activities, farmers are increasingly being asked to consider, apart from the economic profit, the environmental impact of drainage. The Agricultural Drainage and Pesticide Transport model (ADAPT) was used in this study to evaluate the impact of subsurface drainage design on the soil water balance over a two-year period during which observed drainage discharge data were available. Twelve modeling scenarios incorporated four drainage coefficients (DC), 0.64 cm/d, 0.95 cm/d, 1.27 cm/d, and 1.91 cm/d, and three drain depths, 0.84 m, 1.15 m, and 1.45 m. The baseline condition corresponded to the drainage system specifications at the field site: a drain depth and spacing of 1.45 m and 28 m, respectively (DC of 0.64 cm/d). The results of the two-year simulation suggested that for a given drainage coefficient, soils with the shallower drains (but equal DC) generally have less subsurface drainage and can produce more runoff (but reduced total discharge) and evapotranspiration. The results also suggested that it may be possible to design for both water/nitrate/nitrogen reduction and crop water needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-400
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Agricultural hydrology
  • Drainage coefficient
  • Drainage depth
  • Modeling
  • Subsurface drainage
  • Water balance


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