24 Apr 2023
 | 24 Apr 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Drainage assessment of irrigation districts: on the precision and accuracy of four parsimonious models

Pierre Laluet, Luis Olivera-Guerra, Víctor Altés, Vincent Rivalland, Alexis Jeantet, Julien Tournebize, Omar Cenobio-Cruz, Anaïs Barella-Ortiz, Pere Quintana-Seguí, Josep M. Villar, and Olivier Merlin

Abstract. In semi-arid irrigated environments, the agricultural drainage is at the heart of three agro-environmental issues: it is an indicator of water productivity, it is the main control to prevent soil salinization and waterlogging problems, and it is related to the health of downstream ecosystems. Crop water balance models combined with subsurface models can be used to estimate the drainage quantities and dynamics at various spatial scales. However, the precision (capacity of a model to fit the observed drainage using site-specific calibration) and accuracy (capacity of a model to approximate observed drainage using default input parameters) of such models have not yet been assessed in irrigated areas. To fill the gap, this study evaluates four parsimonious drainage models based on the combination of two surface models (RU and SAMIR) and two subsurface models (Reservoir and SIDRA) with varying complexity levels: RU-Reservoir, RU-SIDRA, SAMIR-Reservoir, and SAMIR-SIDRA. All models were applied over two sub-basins of the Algerri-Balaguer irrigation district, northeastern Spain, that are equipped with surface and subsurface drains driving the drained water to general outlets where the discharge is continuously monitored. Results show that RU-Reservoir is the most precise (average KGE (Q0.5) of 0.87), followed by SAMIR-Reservoir (average KGE (Q0.5) of 0.79). However, SAMIR-Reservoir is the most accurate model for providing rough drainage estimates using the default input parameters provided in the literature.

Pierre Laluet et al.

Status: open (extended)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-543', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 May 2023 reply

Pierre Laluet et al.

Pierre Laluet et al.


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Short summary
Monitoring agricultural drainage flow in irrigated areas is key to water and soil management. In this paper, four simple drainage models are evaluated on two irrigated sub-basins where drainage flow is measured daily. The evaluation of their precision shows that they simulate drainage very well when calibrated with drainage data, and that one of them is slightly better. The evaluation of their accuracy shows that only one model can provide rough drainage estimates without calibration data.