Assessment of Saturation Patterns on Agricultural Land Using Time-lapse Photography
Abstract:Agricultural land generates overland flow differently from natural environment due to features from anthropogenic activities such as cultivated soil layer and tile drain pipe. During rainfall events, the formation of overland flow may happen from infiltration excess and/or saturation excess according to the threshold processes which are influenced by rainfall characteristics and soil hydraulic parameters. The dynamics of threshold processes in varying rainfall and soil hydraulic conditions will affect the surface runoff response which can be inversely analyzed by visually observing the generated saturation patterns.
This study aims to explore the use of time-lapse photographs of saturated plot during rainfall events to observe and understand the threshold processes of overland flow generation. The observation was conducted at Hydrological Open Air Laboratory (HOAL) in Lower Austria with a 2 megapixels surveillance camera overlooking a 1.8 ha tile-drained agricultural field situated on a hillslope. The main tile drain pipe extends from the higher ground into the riparian area – creating a depression line which generates the main saturation track. The time-lapse photographs are able to capture the spatial and temporal dynamics of 0.1 ha saturated plot (117 m long and 10 m wide in average) during three big rainfall events in 2014 which produced measurable overland flow. The photographs also manage to capture the behavior of overland flow on tractor tracks which were generated faster than on the main saturated plot – due to the more compacted soil – and contribute significantly to the overall overland flow discharge and movements. Comparison of the photographs with on-field manual plotting shows good accuracy of the captured saturation plot and the possibility of calculating the plot area digitally. This method gives opportunity to observe overland flow generation on visual basis as a complement of the customary discharge measurements.