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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT OF MODELS AND CONSERVATION PRACTICES FOR WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT AND RESOURCE ASSESSMENTS

Location: Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Development of a simplistic vegetative filter strip model for sediment and nutrient retention at the field scale

Authors
item White, Michael
item Arnold, Jeffrey

Submitted to: Hydrological Processes
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 26, 2009
Publication Date: May 30, 2009
Citation: White, M.J., Arnold, J.G. 2009. Development of a simplistic vegetative filter strip model for sediment and nutrient retention at the field scale. Hydrological Processes. 23(11):1602-1616.

Interpretive Summary: Vegetative Filter Strips (VFSs) are popular and highly effective conservation measure to remove pollutants from agricultural runoff. Models to predict the effectiveness of this important practice at the watershed scale are lacking. Effectiveness of VFS derived from plot scale experiments under research conditions likely overestimate their value due to the nonuniformities present in real fields. The objective of this research was to develop a simple VFS model suitable for uniform conditions, and adapt that model to account for the nonuniformities present at the field and watershed scales. The VFS model was incorporated into the Soil and Water Assessment Tool, and verified for proper function. The research allows better more realistic assessment of this important conservation practice.

Technical Abstract: Vegetative Filter Strips (VFSs) are a commonly used conservation measure to remove pollutants from agricultural runoff. The effectiveness of VFSs has been widely studied at the plot scale, yet researchers generally agree that field scale implementations are far less effective. The purpose of this research was to develop a field scale VFS sub model for the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). A model for the retention of sediments and nutrients in VFSs was developed from experimental observations derived from 22 publications. A runoff retention model was developed from Vegetative Filter Strip MODel (VFSMOD) simulations. This model was adapted to operate at the field scale by considering the effects of flow concentration generally absent from plot scale experiments. Flow concentration through ten hypothetical VFSs was evaluated using high resolution (2m) topographical data and multipath flow accumulation. Significant flow concentration was predicted at all sites, on average 10 percent of the VFS received half of the field runoff. As implemented in SWAT, the VFS model contains two sections, a large section receiving relatively modest flow densities and a smaller section treating more concentrated flows. This field scale model was incorporated into SWAT and verified for proper function. This model enhances the ability of SWAT to evaluate the effectiveness of VFS at the watershed scale.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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