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Title: Uniform and lateral preferential flows under flood irrigation at field scale

Flood irrigation is globally one of the most used irrigation methods. Typically, not all water that is applied during flood irrigation is consumed by plants or lost to evaporation. Return flow, the portion of applied water from flood irrigation that returns back to streams either via surface or subsurface flow, can constitute a large part of the water balance. Few studies have addressed the connection between vertical and lateral subsurface flows and its potential role in determining return flow pathways due to the difficulty in observing and quantifying these processes at plot or field scale. We employed a novel approach, combining induced polarization, time‐lapse electrical resistivity tomography, and time‐lapse borehole nuclear magnetic resonance, to identify flow paths and quantify changes in soil hydrological conditions under nonuniform application of flood irrigation water. We developed and tested a new method to track the wetting front in the subsurface using the full range of inverted resistivity values. Antecedent soil moisture conditions did not play an important role in preferential flow path activation. More importantly, boundaries between lithological zones in the soil profile were observed to control preferential flow pathways with subsurface run‐off occurring at these boundaries when saturation occurred. Using the new method to analyse time‐lapse resistivity measurements, we were able to track the wetting front and identify subsurface flow paths. Both uniform infiltration and preferential lateral flows were observed. Combining three geophysical methods, we documented the influence of lithology on subsurface flow processes. This study highlights the importance of characterizing the subsurface when the objective is to identify and quantify subsurface return flow pathways under flood irrigation.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Hydrological Processes
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 2131-2147
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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