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Evaluation of best management practices for sediment and nutrient loss control using SWAT model

Himanshu, Sushil Kumar, Pandey, Ashish, Yadav, Basant, Gupta, Ankit
Soil & tillage research 2019 v.192 pp. 42-58
Soil and Water Assessment Tool model, best management practices, conservation practices, contour farming, corn, crops, evapotranspiration, filter strips, geography, no-tillage, paddies, peanuts, plows, rain, sediment yield, sediments, socioeconomics, soybeans, subwatersheds, watershed management, India
The intensive study of an individual watershed is required to develop effective and efficient watershed management plans. Identification of critical erosion-prone areas of the watershed and implementation of best management practices (BMPs) is necessary to control the watershed degradation by reducing the sediment and nutrient losses. The present study evaluates and recommends the BMPs in an agriculture-based Marol watershed (5092 km2) of India, using a hydrologic model, Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). After successful calibration and validation, the model simulated daily/monthly discharge and sediment were found satisfactory throughout the simulation period. The model was then applied with a calibrated set of parameters for evaluating the effectiveness of various management practices for sediment and nutrient loss control. Keeping in mind the existing agricultural practices, socio-economic aspects and geography of the study area, the management practices were focused on four crops (Maize, Rice, Soybeans and Ground nut), three fertilization levels (high, medium and low), four tillage treatments (Field cultivator, Conservation tillage, Zero tillage and Mould board plough), and two conservation operations (Contour farming and Filter strips). The simulated annual average sediment yield from the watershed was found to be 12.2 t.ha−1yr−1. The water balance analysis revealed that, the evapo-transpiration is predominant over the watershed (approximately 46.3% of the annual average rainfall). Reduction in sediment yield and nutrient loss was observed with alternate cropping treatments of Groundnut and Soybean, as compared to Paddy and Maize cultivation. Overall, based on simulated results, the field cultivator tillage practice and conservation practices viz., contour farming and filter strips, could be adopted to reduce sediment yield and nutrient losses in the critical sub-watersheds of the study area and in other watersheds with similar hydro-climatic conditions.