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Two‐dimensional flow patterns near contour grass hedges

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Grass hedges are narrow strips of stiff‐stemmed vegetation used to control erosion and sediment delivery. When planted on the contour, the hydraulic resistance of the vegetation slows runoff, creates ponding, and promotes sediment deposition. When tillage is performed between grass hedges, soil may be thrown against the vegetation, where it settles to form a berm within the hedge. Tillage‐induced berms divert part of runoff, causing it to flow alongside the hedge without crossing it. Such flow partitioning created by grass hedges was measured on experimental plots located on silt loam loess soil near Holly Springs, Mississippi, USA, where hedges planted at the bottom of 5%, 22.1‐m‐long slopes evolved berms averaging 0.13 m in height. They diverted about 80% of the runoff for events smaller than 5 mm and about 50% for large events. A two‐dimensional model was developed to determine overland flow patterns over complex terrains, accounting for oriented roughness created by tillage corrugations, crop rows, and larger features such as berms and vegetative barriers. The model was used to reproduce the flow partition observed in the field experiments and to determine how berm height and slope steepness and length affected runoff redistribution. Numerical simulations indicated that for most runoff events, ponded runoff depths were not high enough to overtop the berm but rather crossed the berms through cracks and gaps, represented in the model as small triangular weirs. The model also was applied to a 6.0‐ha watershed in Western Iowa, USA, where nine grass hedges were planted across 12–16% slopes. Computed dynamic flow properties showed that berms increased the amount of runoff flowing laterally upslope of the hedges and that a large portion of the runoff crossed the vegetative strips at a few locations and with high flow depths, increasing the risk of development of ephemeral gullies.
Dalmo A. N. Vieira , Seth M. Dabney
agricultural runoff , agricultural watersheds , crops , erosion control , field experimentation , filter strips , grasses , models , overland flow , risk , roughness , sediment deposition , sediments , silt loam soils , tillage , vegetation , weirs , Iowa , Mississippi
Hydrological processes 2012 7 15 v.26 no.15
John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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