Distributed ecohydrological modelling to evaluate the performance of irrigation system in Sirsa district, India: I. Current water management and its productivity

R. Singh, J.G. Kroes, J.C. van Dam, R.A. Feddes

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Distributed ecohydrological modelling can provide a useful toot to evaluate the performance of irrigation systems at different spatial and temporal scales. Sirsa district, covering 4270 km(2) in the western part of Haryana State (India), has been selected for a case study with typical problems of canal water scarcity, poor groundwater quality, rising and declining groundwater levels, and sub-optimal, crop production. The field scale ecohydrological model SWAP including detailed crop growth simulations was extended in a distributed manner to quantify the required hydrological. and biophysical variables for all combinations of weather-crop-soil-irrigation in the study area. Field experiments, satellite images and existing geographical data were used to aggregate the representative input parameters of all so-called homogeneous simulation units' and their boundary conditions. The simulated mean annual evapotranspiration (689 mm) over the entire Sirsa district was 15% lower as compared to the mean annual evapotranspiration (809 mm) estimated by independent remote sensing approach. The simulated water and salt limited crop yields showed a good correspondence with the independent crop yields data obtained from remote sensing, field measurements and statistical records. The performance of Sirsa district during the agricultural year 2001-2002 was evaluated in terms of water productivity, net groundwater recharge and salt build-up. Factors responsible for tow water productivity in Sirsa district include a high percentage of soil evaporation into evapotranspiration (17-54%, highest for rice), percolation from fields and seepage losses from the conveyance system (34-43% of the total canal inflow). The study also revealed a Large variation of net groundwater recharge and salt build-up over different canal commands, which threatens the sustainabitity of irrigated agriculture in Sirsa district. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-713
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006



  • hydraulic conductivity
  • hydrological model
  • soil
  • mustard
  • balance
  • rice

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