Evaluating the effects of irrigation management practices on groundwater recharge and storage in Mississippi Delta

Author(s): Gao, F.; Feng, G.; Han, M.; Jenkins, J.

The Lower Mississippi River alluvial plain (refers to MS Delta), which is located in the northwest part of Mississippi in the U.S. It is a highly productive agricultural region, groundwater was considerably pumped for irrigating major row crops such as corn, cotton, soybean, and rice. As a result, the groundwater table has decreased dramatically, which threaten the sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the MS Delta. The objectives of this study were: 1) quantifying the amount of groundwater recharge as well as the groundwater storage from precipitation and irrigation return flow; 2) simulating the groundwater recharge and storage as affected by a) conventional irrigation scheme; b) water-saving irrigation scheduling for exactly satisfying crop water requirement using all groundwater; c) water-saving irrigation scheduling using different percentages of surface and ground water. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was calibrated by the SUFI-2 auto-calibration algorithm in the SWAT-CUP package using observed daily streamflow data from 2003 to 2006,then was validated using measured streamflow data from 2007 to 2010. The model performed well during the calibration period (R2 ranged from 0.70 to 0.93 and Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency varied from 0.41 to 0.62) for daily streamflow. This study suggested that the conjunctive use of surface and ground water as irrigation sources is a sustainable way for future generations to continuously grow those major row crops in MS Delta.

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