Development of an Improved Irrigation Subroutine in SWAT to Simulate the Hydrology of Rice Paddy Grown under Submerged Conditions

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Bindhu v Muraleedharan, Karpagam Kathirvel, Balaji Narasimhan and Nithila Devi Nallasamy, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India
Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is a basin scale, distributed hydrological model commonly used to predict the effect of management decisions on the hydrologic response of watersheds. Hydrologic response is decided by the various components of water balance. In the case of watersheds located in south India as well as in several other tropical countries around the world, paddy is one of the dominant crop controlling the hydrologic response of a watershed. Hence, the suitability of SWAT in replicating the hydrology of paddy fields needs to be verified. Rice paddy fields are subjected to flooding method of irrigation, while the irrigation subroutines in SWAT are developed to simulate crops grown under non flooding conditions. Moreover irrigation is represented well in field scale models, while it is poorly represented within watershed models like SWAT. Reliable simulation of flooding method of irrigation and hydrology of the fields will assist in effective water resources management of rice paddy fields which are one of the major consumers of surface and ground water resources. The current study attempts to modify the irrigation subroutine in SWAT so as to simulate flooded irrigation condition. A field water balance study was conducted on representative fields located within Gadana, a subbasin located in Tamil Nadu (southern part of India) and dominated by rice paddy based irrigation systems. The water balance of irrigated paddy fields simulated with SWAT was compared with the water balance derived by rice paddy based crop growth model named ORYZA. The variation in water levels along with the soil moisture variation predicted by SWAT was evaluated with respect to the estimates derived from ORYZA. The water levels were further validated with field based water balance measurements taken on a daily scale. It was observed that the modified irrigation subroutine was able to simulate irrigation of rice paddy within SWAT in a realistic way compared to the existing method.