Efficient mitigation of environmental loads from agricultural fields to surface waters requires sufficient knowledge of dominating erosion processes and sediment transport pathways. Computational models are often applied in sediment load assessments but their structure inherently includes assumptions and uncertainties, which can hinder their predictive and explanatory capabilities. In this study, a 3D dual-permeability model was applied with field-scale data from a high-latitude site to investigate sediment balances and structural uncertainties in sediment transport components. The two-year data encompassed hourly records of water flow and sediment concentration composite samples from tillage layer runoff and drain discharge in two adjacent clayey fields with different slopes (1% and 5%). Three model structures with different assumptions of sediment transport pathways were built to test their performance against the data. The simulations demonstrated how different model structures can reproduce the data with varying results on sediment balance. The varying results revealed the importance of flow, erosion, and sediment transport observations from the fields to improve the simulations. Structural uncertainty analysis revealed uncertainties which parameter sensitivity analysis could not describe. Concentration data was shown to include more information about erosion and sediment transport processes than solely the load data. The results suggest that a major part (48–69%) of the detached particles remained in the field and that lateral subsurface transport contributed to load generation (10–21% of total loads) especially in the steeper field. The results demonstrated that the majority (84–87%) of sediment loads occurred via subsurface drain discharge and groundwater outflow with the slope gradient of 1–5%, which suggests that load mitigation measures should also be directed to decrease loads via subsurface transport pathways. The simulations demonstrated how transport processes were controlled not only by water flow but also by soil structure.
- Lateral transport
- Preferential flow
Turunen, M., Warsta, L., Paasonen-Kivekäs, M., & Koivusalo, H. (2017). Computational assessment of sediment balance and suspended sediment transport pathways in subsurface drained clayey soils. SOIL AND TILLAGE RESEARCH, 174, 58-69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2017.06.002