Effects of agricultural drainage systems on sediment connectivity in a small Mediterranean lowland catchment

  • Traditional drainage systems combining man-made channels and subsurface tile drains have been used since Roman times to control water excess in Mediterranean lowland regions, favouring adequate soil water regime for agriculture purposes. However, mechanization of agriculture, abandonment or land use changes lead to a progressive deterioration of these drains in the last decades. The effects of these structures on hydrological and sediment dynamics have been previously analyzed in a small Mediterranean lowland catchment (Can Revull, Mallorca, Spain, 1.4 km2) by establishing an integrated sediment budget with a multi-technique approach. Moreover, the recent advances in morphometric techniques enable the completion of this analysis by the accurate identification of active areas (i.e. sources, pathway links, and sinks) and improve the understanding of (de-)coupling mechanisms of water and sediment linkages. In this study, the Borselli's index of connectivity (IC; Cavalli et al. (2013)'s version) derived from a LiDAR-based high resolutionTraditional drainage systems combining man-made channels and subsurface tile drains have been used since Roman times to control water excess in Mediterranean lowland regions, favouring adequate soil water regime for agriculture purposes. However, mechanization of agriculture, abandonment or land use changes lead to a progressive deterioration of these drains in the last decades. The effects of these structures on hydrological and sediment dynamics have been previously analyzed in a small Mediterranean lowland catchment (Can Revull, Mallorca, Spain, 1.4 km2) by establishing an integrated sediment budget with a multi-technique approach. Moreover, the recent advances in morphometric techniques enable the completion of this analysis by the accurate identification of active areas (i.e. sources, pathway links, and sinks) and improve the understanding of (de-)coupling mechanisms of water and sediment linkages. In this study, the Borselli's index of connectivity (IC; Cavalli et al. (2013)'s version) derived from a LiDAR-based high resolution DEM (>1 pt m−2; RMSE < 0.2 m) was used to evaluate the spatial patterns of sediment connectivity of the catchment under two different scenarios: (1) the current scenario, including an accurate representation of the 3800 m of artificial channels and levees (CS - Channelled Scenario), and (2) a hypothetical scenario in which these anthropogenic features were removed (US - Unchannelled Scenario). Design and configuration of the drainage system in Can Revull generated changes favouring lateral decoupling between different compartments, with hillslopes-floodplain and floodplain-channels relationships, showing a general decrease of IC values, and high longitudinal connectivity along the artificial channel network. Field observations corroborated these results: structures enabled rapid drainage of the water excess also promoting low surface runoff within the field crops, proving to be an effective management practice for erosion control in agricultural Mediterranean lowland catchments. By contrast, US demonstrated that the abandonment of the current agricultural practices and the subsequent destruction of the drainage system could lead the higher soil loss rates owning to more intense/effective processes of sediment connectivity.show moreshow less

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Author details:Aleix CalsamigliaORCiD, Julian Garcia-ComendadorORCiD, Josep FortesaORCiD, José Andrés Lopez-TarazonORCiDGND, S. Crema, M. Cavalli, A. Calvo-Cases, Joan EstranyORCiD
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.06.011
ISSN:0169-555X
ISSN:1872-695X
Title of parent work (English):Geomorphology : an international journal on pure and applied geomorphology
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publishing:Amsterdam
Publication type:Article
Language:English
Date of first publication:2018/06/22
Completion year:2018
Release date:2021/09/14
Tag:Catchment management; LiDAR; Sediment connectivity; Soil erosion; Traditional drainage systems
Volume:318
Number of pages:10
First page:162
Last Page:171
Funding institution:Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of the Spanish Government [CGL2012-32446]; Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness [BES-2013-062887]; Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture [FPU15/05239, EEBB-I-16-11074]; European Commission - Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations; Autonomous Balearic Government [CAIB PD/038/2016]; Secretariat for Universities and Research of the Department of the Economy; Knowledge of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia [2014 SGR 645]
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Umweltwissenschaften und Geographie
DDC classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Peer review:Referiert