Managing water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems

Author: Tailin Li, PhD student at Czech Technical University in Prague

The Czech agricultural landscape is not only fascinating for photographers, but also interesting for hydrologists to observe the hydrological processes such as runoff generation, soil erosion in the cultivated fields. Thus, an experimental catchment has been established at the Czech village Nučice monitor the hydrological processes since 2011. When I saw the view in Nučice for the first time, I was amazed by the large parcel of crops, and the long wheel tracks within the beautiful landscape.

Figure 1. The view of the Czech agricultural landscape

During my work in the SHUI project, I had many opportunities to work in the field, which has gradually drawn my interests in the runoff generation mechanism and the runoff connectivity on the cultivated soils. As a PhD student at Czech Technical University in Prague, my research topic is related to the spatio-temporal variability of soil moisture in agricultural catchments. To identify spatio-temporal patterns in the catchment, we have implemented shallow soil moisture measurements at point-scale, hillslope-scale, and field-scale. We have deployed FDR (frequency domain reflectometry) sensors at different depths for point-scale measurements. The monitoring of topsoil water content at hillslope-scale and field-scale has been mostly accomplished by field surveys with HydroSense II sensors. Although the landscape is homogenous under the regular farming activities, the spatial variability of soil water content has been observed during the field surveys. Besides, we also deployed two COSMIC-ray sensors at the catchment to observe the dynamic of soil water content at field-scale.

Figure 2. Soil moisture measurements (HydroSense II, CS650 and cosmic-ray sensor)

To make our research be accessible for public, an open source web-based WALNUD dataset (Water in Agricultural Landscape – NUčice Database) has been established online for public use. The datasets consist of observed variables such as measured precipitation, air temperature, stream discharge, and soil moisture. The cross-seasonal, open access datasets at this small-scale agricultural catchment will benefit not only hydrologists but also local farmers. To promote the open dataset, we published a datanote on the journal Hydrological Processes. Also, I attended the CUAHSI seminar to give a brief introduction of our experimental catchment.

Figure 3. Field surveys of monitoring soil moisture

I grew up in the south part of China, the agricultural landscape in the southern China is quite different from where I am working now. The SHUI project has bridged the researches from multiple disciplines across EU and China, which has broadened my horizons about the different agricultural practices and water managements. Facing the challenges of climate change and water scarcity, I would like to gain more knowledge of water and soil management to contribute to our common future.

Further reading:

Li, T.; Jeřábek, J; Noreika, N.; Dostál, T.; Zumr, D. (2021): An overview of hydrometeorological datasets from a small agricultural catchment (Nučice) in the Czech Republic. In: Hydrological Processes. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.14042.

Noreika, N.; Li, T.; Zumr, D.; Krása, J.; Dostál, T.; Srinivasan, R. (2020): Farm-scale biofuel crop adoption and its effects on in-basin water balance. SUSTAINABILITY. 2020, 12(24), ISSN 2071-1050. DOI 10.3390/su122410596.

Jeřábek, J., Zumr, D., & Dostál, T. (2017). Identifying the plough pan position on cultivated soils by measurements of electrical resistivity and penetration resistance. Soil and Tillage Research, 174, 231–240.

Zumr, David; Dostál, Tomáš; Devátý, Jan (2015): Identification of prevailing storm runoff generation mechanisms in an intensively cultivated catchment. In: Journal of Hydrology and Hydromechanics 63 (3), S. 246–254. DOI: 10.1515/johh-2015-0022.

Zumr, David; Dostál, Tomáš; Devátý, Jan; Valenta, Petr; Rosendorf, Pavel; Eder, Alexander; Strauss, Peter (2017): Experimental determination of the flood wave transformation and the sediment resuspension in a small regulated stream in an agricultural catchment. In: Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 21 (11), S. 5681–5691. DOI: 10.5194/hess-21-5681-2017.


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