The use of numerical modelling to assess soil water dynamics in subsurface irrigation

Mayara Oliveira Rocha, Adunias dos Santos Teixeira, Francisco das Chagas da Silva Filho, Rubens Sonsol Gondim, Alan Bernard Oliveira de Sousa


Knowledge of soil water dynamics is essential for establishing appropriate methods of irrigation management. Water dynamics in unsaturated soils is a complex process that can be explained by the Richards equation. As this is a non-linear differential equation, there is no analytical solution, but requires the use of the finite element method, for example, to obtain solutions, where simulations using numerical modelling make it possible to predict the the flow of water from the soil. As such, the aim of this study was to evaluate a 2D numerical model in simulating water distribution and wet bulb formation resulting from a subsurface irrigation system, in addition to validating the generated model. The Pearson correlation coefficient (r), the coefficient of determination (R2) and the root-mean-square error (RMSE) were calculated. For each treatment, both during and after irrigation, the model showed a small relative error, high values for R2 and a positive correlation with the field data. It was concluded that the model is applicable to the design and management of subsurface irrigation systems, varying the installation depth of the drip tube, the spacing between emitters and the soil moisture, giving good results for the various simulated scenarios.


Drip irrigation. Water use efficiency. Irrigation depth. Simulation.

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