Irrigation Science

, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 469–478 | Cite as

Water and nitrate distributions as affected by layered-textural soil and buried dripline depth under subsurface drip fertigation

  • Jiusheng Li
  • Yuchun Liu
Original Paper


Laboratory experiments were conducted to investigate the distributions of water and nitrate from a buried dripline discharging an ammonium nitrate solution in uniform and layered-textural soils. Two layered soils, a sandy-over-loam soil (SL) and a loam-sandy-loam soil (LSL), and two uniform soils of sandy (S) and loam (L) were tested. The experimental results demonstrated that dripline depth and layered-textural soil greatly affected water and nitrate distribution. Wetted depth increased with dripline depth and initial soil water content for both uniform and layered soils. The distribution pattern of water in the layered soils was controlled by the layering sequence and the dripline position relative to the interface between two soil layers. Water accumulation occurred in the fine-textural layer of soil for the layered soils. For the sandy-over-loam soil (SL), positioning the dripline below the interface led to much water (89%) moving to the sublayer of loam soil than positioning the dripline above the interface (73%). For the loam-sandy-loam soil (LSL), positioning the dripline in the top layer of loam soil resulted in 77% of water applied distributed in the top layer, while positioning the dripline in the bottom layer of loam soil resulted in 93% of water applied distributed in the bottom layer. Measurements of nitrate distribution showed that nitrate concentration in the proximity of the dripline and of the water accumulation zone approximated the input concentration while nitrate accumulated at the boundary of the wetted volume for both uniform and layered soils tested. The results from this study suggest that the dripline depth should be carefully selected in the design of subsurface drip irrigation systems for layered soils to obtain a target distribution of water and nitrate.


Subsurface drip irrigation Layered-textural soil Buried dripline depth Water distribution Nitrate distribution 



This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 50579077 and 50979115).


  1. Abbaspour K, Kasteel R, Schulin R (2000) Inverse parameter estimation in a layered unsaturated field soil. Soil Sci 165:109–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arbat GP, Lamm FR, Kheira Abou (2010) Subsurface drip irrigation emitter spacing effects on soil water redistribution, corn yield, and water productivity. Appl Eng Agric 26(3):391–399Google Scholar
  3. Bar-Yosef B, Sheikholslami MR (1976) Distribution of water and ions in soils irrigated and fertilized from a trickle source. Soil Sci Soc Am J 40:575–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Camp CR (1998) Subsurface drip irrigation: a review. Trans ASAE 41:1353–1367Google Scholar
  5. Clothier BE, Sauer TJ (1988) Nitrogen transport during drip fertigation with urea. Soil Sci Soc Am J 52:345–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clothier BE, Green SR, Sauer TJ (1988) The movement of ammonium nitrate into unsaturated soil during unsteady absorption. Soil Sci Soc Am J 52:340–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cote CM, Bristoe KL, Philip BC, Cook FJ, Thorburn PJ (2003) Analysis of soil wetting and solute transport in subsurface trickle irrigation. Irrigation Sci 22:143–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gardner WH (1979) How water moves in the soil. Crops Soils 32(2):13–18Google Scholar
  9. Hachum AY, Alfaro JF (1980) Rain infiltration into layered soils: prediction. J Irrigation Drain Div ASCE 106:311–321Google Scholar
  10. Hanks RJ, Bowers SA (1962) Numerical solution of the moisture flow equation for infiltration into layered soils. Soil Sci Soc Am Proc 26:520–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hanson BR, Simunek J, Hopmans JW (2006) Evaluation of urea-ammonium-nitrate fertigation with drip irrigation using numerical modeling. Agric Water Manag 86:102–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hill DE, Parlange JY (1972) Wetting front instability in layered soils. Soil Sci Soc Am Proc 36:697–702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jury WA, Horton R (2004) Soil Physics. 6th edn. John Wiley & Sons, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  14. Kachanoski RG, Thony JL, Vauclin M, Vachaud G, Laty R (1994) Measurement of solute transport during constant infiltration from a point source. Soil Sci Soc Am J 58:304–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Li J, Zhang J, Ren L (2003) Water and nitrogen distribution as affected by fertigation of ammonium nitrate from a point source. Irrigation Sci 22:19–30Google Scholar
  16. Li J, Yoder RE, Odhiambo LO, Zhang J (2004) Simulation of nitrate distribution under drip irrigation using artificial neural networks. Irrigation Sci 23:29–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li J, Zhang J, Rao M (2005) Modeling of water flow and nitrate transport under surface drip fertigation. Trans ASAE 48:627–637Google Scholar
  18. Li J, Ji H, Li B, Liu Y (2007) Wetting patters and nitrate distribution in layered-textual soils under drip irrigation. Agric Sci China 6:970–980Google Scholar
  19. Liu Y, Li J (2009a) Effects of lateral depth and layered-textural soil on water and nitrogen use efficiency of drip irrigated tomato. Trans CSAE 25(5):7–12Google Scholar
  20. Liu Y, Li J (2009b) Effects of lateral depth and layered-textural soil on water and nitrate dynamics and root distribution for drip fertigated tomato. J Hydraul Eng 40(7):782–790Google Scholar
  21. Mallants D, Mohanty BP, Jacques D, Jan F (1996) Spatial variability of hydraulic properties in a multi-layered soil profile. Soil Sci 161:167–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mmolawa K, Or D (2003) Experimental and numerical evaluation of analytical volume balance model for soil water dynamics under drip irrigation. Soil Sci Soc Am J 67:1657–1671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Patel N, Rajput TBS (2007) Effect of drip tape placement depth and irrigation level on yield of potato. Agric Water Manag 88:209–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Philip JR (1992) What happens near a quasi-linear point source. Water Resour Res 28:47–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Shani U, Or D (1995) In situ method for estimating subsurface unsaturated hydraulic conductivity. Water Resour Res 31:1863–1870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Simunek J, Sejna M, van Genuchten MT (1999) HYDRUS 2D simulating water flow, heat, and solute transport in two-dimensional variably saturated media. International ground water modeling center, Riverside, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  27. Singh DK, Sikarwarc HS, Sahood RN, Ahmadc T (2006) Simulation of soil wetting pattern with subsurface drip irrigation from line source. Agric Water Manag 83:130–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. van Genuchten MTh, Leij FJ, Yates SR (1991) The RETC code for quantifying the hydraulic functions of unsaturated soils, Version 1.0. EPA Report 600/2–91/065. US Salinity Laboratory, USDA, ARS, Riverside, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  29. Wang Q, Shao M, Horton R (1999) Modified green-ampt models for layered soil infiltration and muddy water infiltration. Soil Sci 164:445–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Irrigation and DrainageChina Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower ResearchBeijingChina
  2. 2.Hebei Agricultural UniversityBaodingChina

Personalised recommendations