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Use of the SWB-Sci model for nitrogen management in sludge-amended land


  • Tesfamariam, Eyob H.
  • Annandale, John G.
  • Steyn, Joachim M.
  • Stirzaker, Richard J.
  • Mbakwe, Ikenna


Process-based computer simulation models are often used as reasoning support tools to integrate the complex processes involved in the soil-plant-atmosphere system. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the performance of the SWB-Sci model as a reasoning support tool for sludge management in agricultural lands, and use the validated model to assess the long-term agronomic and environmental implications of water availability and crop intensity on sludge-amended land. The model was calibrated for the test crops, maize (Zea mays Pan6966) and oats (Avena sativa L.), using data collected during the 2004/2005 growing season from irrigated plots at the East Rand Water Care Works, Gauteng, South Africa. Model validation was performed using independent data sets collected during the 2004/2005 to 2007/2008 growing seasons. The model was successfully calibrated for maize and oats as all the statistical parameters were within the prescribed ranges [index of agreement (d) >0.8; relative mean absolute error (MAE%) <20%; coefficient of determination (R2) >0.8]. The results indicate that SWB-Sci simulated aboveground biomass (TDM) and grain yield (GY) of maize and oats with high accuracy (d>0.85, MAE% ≤20%, and R2>0.91) but with a slight overestimation by 0.2–4Mgha−1. The model predicted nitrate leaching and crop N uptake reasonably well (d>0.85, MAE% ≤14%, and R2>0.8), with slight overestimation of TDM and GY N uptake by 11–57 and 4–48kgha−1, respectively. Long-term model simulations indicate that fixed sludge application rate recommendations generated from laboratory incubation studies may in the long-term result in spontaneous excessive nitrate leaching below the active root zone during high rainfall events, if recommendations do not consider N contribution from soil organic matter. Modelling also showed that leaving room for rain during each irrigation event may minimize the risk of nitrate leaching.

Suggested Citation

  • Tesfamariam, Eyob H. & Annandale, John G. & Steyn, Joachim M. & Stirzaker, Richard J. & Mbakwe, Ikenna, 2015. "Use of the SWB-Sci model for nitrogen management in sludge-amended land," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 262-276.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:152:y:2015:i:c:p:262-276
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agwat.2015.01.023

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Blum, Julius & Melfi, Adolpho José & Montes, Célia Regina & Gomes, Tamara Maria, 2013. "Nitrogen and phosphorus leaching in a tropical Brazilian soil cropped with sugarcane and irrigated with treated sewage effluent," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 115-122.
    2. Kropff, M. J. & Bouma, J. & Jones, J. W., 2001. "Systems approaches for the design of sustainable agro-ecosystems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 70(2-3), pages 369-393.
    3. Cameira, M. R. & Fernando, R. M. & Pereira, L. S., 2003. "Monitoring water and NO3-N in irrigated maize fields in the Sorraia Watershed, Portugal," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 199-216, May.
    4. Arbat, G. & Roselló, A. & Domingo Olivé, F. & Puig-Bargués, J. & González Llinàs, E. & Duran-Ros, M. & Pujol, J. & Ramírez de Cartagena, F., 2013. "Soil water and nitrate distribution under drip irrigated corn receiving pig slurry," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 11-22.
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    1. Ogbazghi, Z.M. & Tesfamariam, E.H. & Annandale, J.G., 2016. "Modelling N mineralisation from sludge-amended soils across agro-ecological zones: A case study from South Africa," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 322(C), pages 19-30.

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