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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  16 Jan 2020

16 Jan 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Estimating the degree of preferential flow to drainage in an agricultural clay till field for a 10-year period

David Nagy1, Annette E. Rosenbom2, Bo V. Iversen1, Mohamed Jabloun3, and Finn Plauborg1 David Nagy et al.
  • 1Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark
  • 2Department of Geochemistry, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350Copenhagen K, Denmark
  • 3School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Loughborough, LE12 5RD, UK

Abstract. The conceptual understanding of the preferential water flow is crucial and hence understanding the degree of water percolating rapidly through vertical macropores, or slowly through the low-permeable matrix, is vital in order to assess the risk of contaminants like nitrate and pesticides being transported through a variably-saturated macroporous clay till to drainage. This study compared six different model concepts, using the dual-permeability module of the one-dimensional model DAISY, incorporating three different macropore settings and two different groundwater tables set as lower boundary conditions. The three macropore settings included vertical macropores supplying water directly to (a) drainage, (b) drainage and matrix and (c) drainage and matrix including fractures supplying water to the matrix in the saturated zone. The model study was based on ten years of coherent climate, drainage, and groundwater data from an agricultural clay till field. The estimated drainage obtained with the six model concepts was compared to the measured drainage. No significant discrepancies between the estimated and measured drainage were identified. The model concept with the macropore setting (b) exposed to groundwater fluctuations measured in the southern part of the field, gave the best description of the drainage. Bromide leaching tests were used to evaluate the mass balance of the model concepts. The estimated water balance of all six concepts revealed that 70 % of the precipitation input to drainage was transported via macropores. According to the results of bromide leaching simulation, 54 % of the drainage was estimated to be transported via vertical macropores being initiated in the plow layer.

David Nagy et al.

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Short summary
The results of this model study revealed that 70 % of the overall drainage was supplied via macropores and of applied Bromide tracer, 54 % leached directly from the plough layer. This shows that there is a high risk of used soluble agrochemicals and nutrients, which are incorporated into the plough layer (such as injected slurry), being leached to the tile drain system.
The results of this model study revealed that 70 % of the overall drainage was supplied via...