For many years water management in the Roswell ground-water basin (Roswell Basin) and other declared basins in New Mexico has been the responsibility of the State of New Mexico. One of the water management issues requiring better quantification is the amount of deep percolation from applied irrigation water. Two adjacent fields, planted in alfalfa, were studied to determine deep percolation by the water-budget, volumetric-moisture, and chloride mass-balance methods. Components of the water-budget method were measured, in study plots called borders, for both fields during the 1996 irrigation season. The amount of irrigation water applied in the west border was 95.8 centimeters and in the east border was 169.8 centimeters. The total amount of precipitation that fell during the irrigation season was 21.9 centimeters. The increase in soil-moisture storage from the beginning to the end of the irrigation season was 3.2 centimeters in the west border and 8.8 centimeters in the east border. Evapotranspiration, as estimated by the Bowen ratio energy balance technique, in the west border was 97.8 centimeters and in the east border was 101.0 centimeters. Deep percolation determined using the water-budget method was 16.4 centimeters in the west border and 81.6 centimeters in the east border. An average deep percolation of 22.3 centimeters in the west border and 31.6 centimeters in the east border was determined using the volumetric-moisture method. The chloride mass-balance method determined the multiyear deep percolation to be 15.0 centimeters in the west border and 38.0 centimeters in the east border. Large differences in the amount of deep percolation between the two borders calculated by the water-budget method are due to differences in the amount of water that was applied to each border. More water was required to flood the east border because of the greater permeability of the soils in that field and the smaller rate at which water could be applied.
Abstract from Water-Resources Investigations Report 98-4096
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