Articles | Volume 15, issue 7
Research article
12 Jul 2011
Research article |  | 12 Jul 2011

A novel explicit approach to model bromide and pesticide transport in connected soil structures

J. Klaus and E. Zehe

Abstract. The present study tests whether an explicit treatment of worm burrows and tile drains as connected structures is feasible for simulating water flow, bromide and pesticide transport in structured heterogeneous soils at hillslope scale. The essence is to represent worm burrows as morphologically connected paths of low flow resistance in a hillslope model. A recent Monte Carlo study (Klaus and Zehe, 2010, Hydrological Processes, 24, p. 1595–1609) revealed that this approach allowed successful reproduction of tile drain event discharge recorded during an irrigation experiment at a tile drained field site. However, several "hillslope architectures" that were all consistent with the available extensive data base allowed a good reproduction of tile drain flow response. Our second objective was thus to find out whether this "equifinality" in spatial model setups may be reduced when including bromide tracer data in the model falsification process. We thus simulated transport of bromide for the 13 spatial model setups that performed best with respect to reproduce tile drain event discharge, without any further calibration. All model setups allowed a very good prediction of the temporal dynamics of cumulated bromide leaching into the tile drain, while only four of them matched the accumulated water balance and accumulated bromide loss into the tile drain. The number of behavioural model architectures could thus be reduced to four. One of those setups was used for simulating transport of Isoproturon, using different parameter combinations to characterise adsorption according to the Footprint data base. Simulations could, however, only reproduce the observed leaching behaviour, when we allowed for retardation coefficients that were very close to one.