Coupled surface-subsurface flow model for improved basin irrigation management

D. Zerihun*, A. Furman, A. W. Warrick, C. A. Sanchez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The availability of a process-based coupled surface-subsurface model can lead to improved surface irrigation/fertigation management practices. In this study, a one-dimensional zero-inertia model is coupled with a one-dimensional unsaturated zone water-flow model: HYDRUS-1D. A driver program is used to effect internal iterative coupling of the surface and subsurface flow models. Flow depths calculated using the surface-flow model are used as Dirichlet boundary conditions for the subsurface-flow model, and infiltration amounts calculated by the subsurface model are in turn used in surface-flow mass balance calculations. The model was tested by using field data collected at the University of Arizona, Yuma Mesa, research farm. The maximum mean absolute difference between field-observed and model-predicted advance is 2 min. Applications of the coupled model in improved irrigation management are highlighted. In addition, the significance of the effects of soil moisture redistribution on irrigation water availability to crops and the capability of the coupled model in tracking those changes in soil water status over time are discussed using examples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-128
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering - ASCE
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Coupling
  • Hydrologic models
  • Irrigation practices
  • Surface irrigation
  • Unsaturated flow


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