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Impacts of tile drainage on water quality

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Title: Impacts of tile drainage on water quality
Author: Paine, J. D.; Watt, W. E.
Abstract: Impairment of water quality as a result of agricultural activity is desired neither by the farming community nor by recreational users of receiving water bodies. Removal of valuable pesticides, fertilizers and topsoil by surface or subsurface drainage represents an economic loss to agriculture and a potential pollution hazard to receiving waters. In order to evaluate this potential impairment of water quality, there is a need for accurate prediction of chemical contaminant and sediment loadings for different environments, loading conditions, and agricultural management strategies. The objectives of the research described in this report were to define the processes involved in movement of contaminants through the soil or over the surface and into tiles or ditches draining agricultural fields, incorporate an understanding of these processes into a physically-based model, collect field data for calibration and verification, use the model to evaluate the effects of tile drainage on water quality, and provide guidance on potential management strategies. Algorithms to represent processes for chemical transport through the soil profile and into the tile drains were developed. These algorithms were incorporated into TILE which is a continuous, physically-based hydrologic simulation model for tile-drained agricultural fields and basins. To obtain data for model testing and calibration, a co-operative field program was entered into with Agriculture Canada to monitor tile water quantity and pesticide concentrations from a tile-drained corn field at the Animal Research Centre in Ottawa. In addition, field studies were undertaken to define the physical parameters required by the model -- saturated hydraulic conductivity, soil type and depth, drainable porosity, infiltration characteristics -- field slopes and tile installation details. Following collection and reduction of the data, TILE was calibrated to ensure it would accurately reproduce the hydrologic response of the tile drained field. Testing of the water quality algorithms for the pesticide employed (metolachlor) was undertaken. Finally, various scenarios involving the methods of application of pesticides and fertilizers and the timing of rainfall were evaluated to determine the potential effects on nutrient or pesticide loss from the fields through the tile drains or from surface runoff.
Date: 1994
Rights: Queen's Printer for Ontario, Crown Copyright, Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Rights Holder: Queen's Printer for Ontario

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