Literature on prevalence of concentrated flow paths (CPFs) in agricultural fields are limited at field scale with only few studies that address occurrence of CFPs at large geographic extent. This study used high-resolution Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data to identify CFPs in agricultural fields and calculate the percentage of the fields drained by CFPs at a county scale. In 389 agricultural fields across Jackson County, southern Illinois, this study also investigated the association between field characteristics and CFP formation using multiple regression and CART analysis. The mean number of CFPs in a field was 5 with a minimum of 0 and maximum of 17 CFPs. The majority of the CFPs fell under the large category for CFP length and drainage area that corresponds with high mean percent (81%) of field area drained by the CFPs. Further, 85% of the fields had more than 70% of their area drained by CFPs. The multiple regression and CART analysis showed slope as an important factor influencing CFP characteristics such as number of CFPs and CFP length. Both analyses also indicated physical soil properties such as bulk density, soil erodibility factor, saturated hydraulic conductivity, LS factor, organic matter, and percent sand were also predictors of the CFP characteristics. However, these factors explained only 2 to 12% of the variation observed. The significant presence of CFP’s has important implications for water quality since current conservation practices such as riparian buffers were not designed to address concentrated flow from agricultural fields.
Water, Air, & Soil Pollution – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 5, 2018