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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Crop Canopy and Residue Rainfall Interception Effects on Water and Crop Growth

Authors
item Kozak, Joseph
item Ahuja, Lajpat
item Green, Timothy
item Ma, Liwang

Submitted to: Hydrological Processes
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 1, 2005
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Crop canopies and residues have been shown to intercept a significant amount of rainfall. However, rainfall or irrigation interception by crops and residues has often been overlooked in hydrologic modelling. Crop canopy interception is controlled by canopy density and rainfall intensity and duration. Crop residue interception is a function of crop residue type, residue density and cover, and rainfall intensity and duration. We account for these controlling factors and present a model for both interception components based on Merriam’s approach. The Merriam model developed and current modelling approaches were examined and compared with two field studies and one laboratory study. The Merriam model is shown to agree well with measurements and was implemented within the Agricultural Research Service Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM). Using this enhanced version of RZWQM, three simulation studies were performed to examine the quantitative effects of rainfall interception by corn and wheat canopies and residues on soil hydrological components. Study I consisted of 10 separate hypothetical growing seasons (1991-2000) for canopy effects and 10 separate non-growing seasons (1991-2000) for residue effects for eastern Colorado conditions. For actual management practices in a no-till wheat-corn-fallow cropping sequence at Akron, Colorado (Study II), a continuous 10-year RZWQM simulation was performed to examine the cumulative changes on water balance components and crop growth caused by canopy and residue rainfall interception. Finally, to examine a higher precipitation environment, a hypothetical, no-till wheat-corn-fallow rotation scenario at Corvallis, Oregon was simulated (Study III). For all studies, interception was shown to decrease infiltration, runoff, evapotranspiration from soil, deep seepage of water and chemical transport, macropore flow, leaf area index, and crop/grain yield. Because interception decreased both infiltration and soil evapotranspiration, no significant change in soil water storage was simulated. Nonetheless, these findings and the new interception models are significant new contributions for hydrologists.

Technical Abstract: Crop canopies and residues have been shown to intercept a significant amount of rainfall. However, rainfall or irrigation interception by crops and residues has often been overlooked in hydrologic modelling. Crop canopy interception is controlled by canopy density and rainfall intensity and duration. Crop residue interception is a function of crop residue type, residue density and cover, and rainfall intensity and duration. We account for these controlling factors and present a model for both interception components based on Merriam’s approach. The Merriam model developed and current modelling approaches were examined and compared with two field studies and one laboratory study. The Merriam model is shown to agree well with measurements and was implemented within the Agricultural Research Service Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM). Using this enhanced version of RZWQM, three simulation studies were performed to examine the quantitative effects of rainfall interception by corn and wheat canopies and residues on soil hydrological components. Study I consisted of 10 separate hypothetical growing seasons (1991-2000) for canopy effects and 10 separate non-growing seasons (1991-2000) for residue effects for eastern Colorado conditions. For actual management practices in a no-till wheat-corn-fallow cropping sequence at Akron, Colorado (Study II), a continuous 10-year RZWQM simulation was performed to examine the cumulative changes on water balance components and crop growth caused by canopy and residue rainfall interception. Finally, to examine a higher precipitation environment, a hypothetical, no-till wheat-corn-fallow rotation scenario at Corvallis, Oregon was simulated (Study III). For all studies, interception was shown to decrease infiltration, runoff, evapotranspiration from soil, deep seepage of water and chemical transport, macropore flow, leaf area index, and crop/grain yield. Because interception decreased both infiltration and soil evapotranspiration, no significant change in soil water storage was simulated. Nonetheless, these findings and the new interception models are significant new contributions for hydrologists.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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