Application of the optimization method for estimating infiltration characteristics in furrow irrigation and its comparison with other methods
Abstract The infiltration characteristics of a soil vary spatially and temporally, and due to this the available methods for estimating the characteristics in furrow irrigation are either not suitable or have restrictions for their field use. An optimization method based on the volume balance approach, originally developed for estimating infiltration parameters in border irrigation, and using multiple observations of arrival time of the wetting front was modified for furrow irrigation. The method was applied to 13 irrigation events on furrows monitored on a farm in northern New South Wales, Australia. The soil type at the experimental site has a high clay content (up to 67%) and develops cracks when dry. In addition to the optimization method, one-point and two-point methods using observations of arrival time reported in the literature were also used. The accuracy of different methods was evaluated by comparing the calculated total volume of water infiltrated into the furrow with that observed in the field. The optimization method was the most accurate and the one-point and the two-point were the least accurate among three methods considered in the present study. A possible explanation for a poor performance of the one-point and two-point methods might be related to the assumptions made in the derivation of the methods and the unsuitability of the Philip and the Kostiakov infiltration equations used for the field condition in the present study.