Improving runoff prediction using agronomical information in a cropped, loess covered catchment

Marie Lefrancq, Paul van Dijk, Victor Jetten, Matthieu Schwob, Sylvain Payraudeau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Predicting runoff hot spots and hot-moments within a headwater crop-catchment is of the utmost importance to reduce adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems by adapting land use management to control runoff. Reliable predictions of runoff patterns during a crop growing season remain challenging. This is mainly due to the large spatial and temporal variations of topsoil hydraulic properties controlled by complex interactions between weather, growing vegetation, and cropping operations. This interaction can significantly modify runoff patterns and few process-based models can integrate this evolution of topsoil properties during a crop growing season at the catchment scale. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to better constrain the event-based hydrological model Limburg Soil Erosion Model by incorporating temporal constraints for input topsoil properties during a crop growing season (LISEM). The results of the temporal constraint strategy (TCS) were compared with a classical event per event calibration strategy (EES) using multi-scale runoff information (from plot to catchment). The EES and TCS approaches were applied in a loess catchment of 47 ha located 30 km northeast of Strasbourg (Alsace, France). A slight decrease of the Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency criterion on runoff discharge for TCS compared to EES was counterbalanced by a clear improvement of the spatial runoff patterns within the catchment. This study showed that limited agronomical and climatic information added during the calibration step improved the spatial runoff predictions of an event-based model. Reliable prediction of runoff source, connectivity, and dynamics can then be derived and discussed with stakeholders to identify runoff hot spots and hot-moments for subsequent land use and crop management modifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1408-1423
Number of pages16
JournalHydrological processes
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017


  • Calibration
  • Equifinality
  • Hot spots
  • Manning's coefficient
  • Saturated hydraulic conductivity
  • Soil surface characteristics
  • 2023 OA procedure


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