Water Resources Management

, Volume 27, Issue 8, pp 3145–3164 | Cite as

A New Model for Simulating Supplemental Irrigation and the Hydro-Economic Potential of a Rainwater Harvesting System in Humid Subtropical Climates

  • Pramod K. PandeyEmail author
  • Pieter van der Zaag
  • Michelle L. Soupir
  • Vijay P. Singh


Here we have developed a new model to simulate supplemental irrigation and the hydro-economic potential of a rainwater harvesting system in rainfed agricultural areas. Using the model, soil moisture in rainfed crop land, supplemental irrigation requirements, rainwater storage in an on-farm reservoir (OFR) system, and surface and ground water availability were predicted. In an irrigated system, an OFR was used to harvest rainwater during the rainy season, and stored water was applied to cropland as supplemental irrigation (SI). An economic analysis was performed to calculate the benefits due to an OFR irrigation system, and gains from increased crop yield and downstream water availability in the irrigated OFR system were compared with rainfed system (i.e. no OFR). In addition, we calculated the impacts of dry and wet seasons on total value gains (grain and water gains) for irrigated and rainfed conditions and performed a sensitivity analysis to quantify the impacts of model input parameters on total value gains. Analyses showed that the OFR system can produce crop yields three times greater than rainfed agriculture. During a water stress season, the total water use in the irrigated system was 65 % greater than for the rainfed system. Water use efficiency of the irrigated system was 82 % higher than for the rainfed system. In a dry season, the total value gains due to increased crop yield by supplemental irrigation and downstream water availability of the irrigated system were 74 % greater than for the rainfed system, while in a wet season the total value gain of the irrigated system was 14 % greater than for the rainfed system. A precipitation scenario analysis of wet and dry seasons indicated that the benefits of a rainwater harvesting system can be considerably greater in dry seasons than wet seasons.


Rainwater harvesting Supplemental irrigation, downstream water availability 



On-farm reservoir


Catchment area


Cultivated area


Uncultivated area


OFR area


Change in soil moisture


Change in OFR water


Effective precipitation


Runoff from uncult. land


Reference evapotrans.


Estimated evapotrans.




Actual soil evaporation


Evaporation OFR


Deep percolation


Seepage from OFR


Supplemental irrigation


max. suppl. irrigation


Readily available soil moisture


Runoff from cult. land


Deep absorption constant for deep percolation


Proportional constant for deep percolation


Depth from OFR bottom to the water table


Saturated hydraulic conductivity


Crop coefficient


Calculated crop yield


Maximum crop yield


Actual crop yield under irrigated conditions


Actual crop yield under rainfed conditions


Yield response factor


Available soil moisture


Total water use


Overall water use efficiency


Irrigation water supply efficiency


Green water


Blue water


Water storage in OFR


Spill from OFR


Non-readily available soil moisture


Available soil moisture at field capacity


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pramod K. Pandey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pieter van der Zaag
    • 2
    • 3
  • Michelle L. Soupir
    • 1
  • Vijay P. Singh
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Biosystems EngineeringIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftNetherlands
  3. 3.Water Resources SectionDelft University of TechnologyDelftNetherlands
  4. 4.Department of Biological and Agricultural EngineeringTexas A & M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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