Buyukcangaz H. , Steele D. D. , Tuscherer S. R. , Hopkins D. G. , Jia X.

TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASABE, vol.60, no.5, pp.1575-1591, 2017 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 60 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.13031/trans.12149
  • Title of Journal : TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASABE
  • Page Numbers: pp.1575-1591


A period of excess precipitation since 1993 in the Devils Lake basin in northeastern North Dakota has caused extensive flooding of agricultural land and has raised the question of whether irrigation of agricultural crops to increase evapotranspiration (ET) might be an effective way to remove water from the basin. The objectives of this study were to compare ET estimates derived from application of the Mapping ET at High Resolution with Internalized Calibration (METRIC) algorithm for North Dakota conditions (METRICND) under irrigated and rainfed conditions and to assess the potential for irrigation to increase crop ET as a flood mitigation strategy. Weather data, land use maps, and Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper imagery from 2006, 2007, and 2008 were used as inputs to the METRICND model. The ET for irrigated crops (ETIrrigated) was estimated at five test sites from the Devils Lake Basin Water Utilization Test Project (DLBWUTP). The ET for the predominantly rainfed study area (ETRainfed) was estimated using land use maps to identify locations of the same crops as were present on the test sites. The METRICND model was compared to ET values derived from an eddy covariance (EC) system for approximately two months in 2007 at an irrigated alfalfa test site in the DLBWUTP; the mean absolute error between METRICND and the EC system for the comparison period was 0.51 mm d(-1). Linear regression of ET (in mm) for the test sites and the larger study area yielded ETIrrigated = 1.23 x ETRainfed + 4.77 with R-2 = 0.96, and a t-statistic indicated that the slope was greater than 0 at p = 0.001, indicating the potential for increased ET under irrigation. However, addition of large volumes of irrigation water to the predominantly poorly drained soils in the basin will cause waterlogging and trafficability problems. Installation of subsurface drainage may help alleviate waterlogging, improve crop productivity, and increase ET, but subsurface drainage brings its own complications of disposal of the drained water, salinity of the drainage effluent, and possible sodicity problems on some soils.