Development of a simplistic vegetative filter strip model for sediment and nutrient retention at the field scale


Vegetative filter strips (VFSs) are a commonly used conservation measure to remove pollutants from agricultural runoff. The effectiveness of VFSs has been widely studied at the plot scale, yet researchers generally agree that field scale implementations are far less effective. The purpose of this research was to develop a field scale VFS submodel for the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). A model for the retention of sediments and nutrients in VFSs was developed from experimental observations derived from 22 publications. A runoff retention model was developed from Vegetative Filter Strip MODel (VFSMOD) simulations. This model was adapted to operate at the field scale by considering the effects of flow concentration generally absent from plot scale experiments. Flow concentration through 10 hypothetical VFSs was evaluated using high resolution (2 m) topographical data and multipath flow accumulation. Significant flow concentration was predicted at all sites, on average 10% of the VFS received half of the field runoff. As implemented in SWAT, the VFS model contains two sections, a large section receiving relatively modest flow densities and a smaller section treating more concentrated flow. This field scale model was incorporated into SWAT and verified for proper function. This model enhances the ability of SWAT to evaluate the effectiveness of VFSs at the watershed scale

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