Controlled drainage with subirrigation - a management measure to discharge, retain, and recharge fresh groundwater
“Sufficient freshwater is needed for water-dependent sectors as agriculture, nature, drinking water, and industry. Also in low-lying and flood prone countries like The Netherlands, climate change induced weather extremes, economic growth, urbanization, land subsidence and increased food production cause an increased pressure on the regional groundwater system. The average groundwater table in sandy soil areas in The Netherlands dropped since the 1970’s, with the effect that, nowadays, fresh groundwater is becoming scarce during dry periods.
Measures are needed to guarantee sufficient freshwater for all water use sectors. One of the technical solutions for the agricultural sector could be to modify the current conventional subsurface drainage systems, applied at one third of the Dutch agricultural land, to controlled drainage-subirrigation-systems. By doing so, subsurface drainage systems contribute to a shift in water management strategy: from drainage only to controlled drainage, water retention and groundwater recharge.
We used data and model output of five experimental sites of the Dutch Pleistocene uplands, and one field in the southwest of the Netherlands where controlled drainage with subirrigation is applied. Field data were collected over the years 2017-2021, like water supply, groundwater table and soil moisture content. Other water balance components, crop yield and configuration of the management of the system were modelled with SWAP (Soil-Water-Atmosphere-Plant model), using observations for calibration purposes.”
(Citation: de Wit, J.A., van Huijgevoort, M.H.J., Eertwegh, G.A.P.H. van den, et.al. – Controlled drainage with subirrigation – a management measure to discharge, retain, and recharge fresh groundwater – Studiedag – Peilbeheer, monitoring, modellering en beheer, 26-09-2022)