Salem, Haytham M. and Valero Ubierna, Constantino and Muñoz-García, Miguel Angel and Gil Rodríguez, María and Barreiro Elorza, Pilar
Effect of reservoir tillage on rainwater harvesting and soil erosion control under a developed rainfall simulator..
"Catena", v. 113
Soil erosion is a serious environmental threat in the Mediterranean region due to torrential rainfalls, and it contributes to the degradation of agricultural land. Techniques such as rainwater harvesting may improve soil water storage and increase agricultural productivity, which could result in more effective land usage. Reservoir tillage is an effective system of harvesting rainwater, but it has not been scientifically evaluated like other tillage systems. Its suitability for the conditions in Spain has not been determined. To investigate and quantify water storage from reservoir tillage and how it could be adapted to improve infiltration of harvested rainwater, a laboratory-scale rainfall simulator was developed. Rainfall characteristics, including rainfall intensity, spatial uniformity and raindrop size, confirm that natural rainfall conditions are simulated with sufficient accuracy. The simulator was auto-controlled by a solenoid valve and three pressure nozzles were used to spray water corresponding to five rainfall intensities ranging from 36 to 112 mm h-1 for 3 to 101-year return period with uniformity coefficients between 83 and 94%. In order to assess the reservoir tillage method under surface slopes of 0, 5, and 10%, three soil scooping devices with identical volume were used to make depressions in the following forms: a) truncated square pyramid, b) triangular prism, and c) truncated cone. These depressions were compared to a control soil surface with no depression. For the loam soil used in this study, results show that reservoir tillage was able to reduce soil erosion and surface runoff and significantly increase infiltration. There was significant difference between the depressions and the control. Compared to the control, depression (a) reduced surface runoff by about 61% and the sediment yield concentration by about 79%.