Assessment of the best management practices under a semi-arid basin using SWAT model (case of M’dez watershed, Morocco)

Abstract

In Morocco, several major development projects have been planned to address the worrying concern for soil and water resources. They aimed to reduce the soil degradation and loss of soil fertility caused mainly by water erosion, deforestation, and agricultural practices. The objective of this work is the quantification of the water balance and soil erosion and its spatial distribution, using the hydro-agricultural SWAT model, followed by the evaluation of the best management practices (BMPs) at the M’dez basin (3350 km2), such as contour tillage, bench terraces, and stone line. The coefficient of determination (R2) and Nash–Sutcliffe values were both 0.65 during the calibration step (1993–2002) and 0.56 and 0.61 (2003–2013), respectively, during the validation step, indicating satisfactory performance of the SWAT simulation. The water balance established at the M’dez watershed level shows that the average annual rainfall was around 382 mm, of which 79.9% was lost by evapotranspiration (300.05 mm). Surface runoff was about 13.83 mm, corresponding to 3.6% of precipitation. The results of the implementation of BMPs in agricultural areas showed that the contour tillage scenario was the most efficient option, with a contribution of baseflow to the surface flow of about 7.8%, and an infiltration into the groundwater of approximately 48.2%, which means better preservation of surface water resources. For soil losses, the reduction was significant at 64.90%. At watershed level, the tillage contour scenario coupled with a forestation strategy of the most degraded sub-basins (Slope < 25%) reduced the annual average specific degradation from 3.95 to 1.57 t/ha/year, i.e. (60.25%), and decrease the mean annual sediment input by 60.25% compared to the baseline scenario. The siltation rate of the projected M’dez retention dam was estimated at 0.8 Mm3/year for the baseline scenario, and was reduced to 0.78 Mm3/year and 0.34 Mm3/year, respectively, for the contour tillage scenario and its coupling with the forestation strategy. This work has shown that hydrological modeling using SWAT coupled with BMPs will help planners to manage water and soil resources in an integrated manner at the watershed scale. It will also provide useful information and effectively target the best water and soil conservation practices to select the most appropriate practice for agricultural watersheds.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15
Fig. 16
Fig. 17

References

  1. Abbaspour K, Yang J, Maximov I, Siber R, Bogner K, Mieleitner J, Zobrist J, Srinivasan R (2007) Modeling hydrology and water quality in the pre-alpine/alpine Thur watershed using SWAT. J Hydrol 333:413–430

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Abbaspour KC, Rouholahnejad E, Vaghefi S, Srinivasan R, Yang H, Klove B (2015) A continental-scale hydrology and water quality model for Europe: calibration and uncertainty of a high-resolution large-scale SWAT model. J Hydrol 524:733–752

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Abbott MB, Bathurst JC, Cunge JA, O’Connell PE, Rasmussen J (1986) An introductivn to the European Hydrological System—Syscme Hydrologique Europen, “SHE”, 1. His’.ory and philc, sophy of a physically-based, distributed modelling system. J Hydrol 87:45–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Adam M et al (2019) Multi-scale hydrologic sensitivity to climatic and anthropogenic changes in Northern Morocco. Geosciences 2020(10):13

    Google Scholar 

  5. Ahl RS, Woods SW, Zuuring HR (2008) Hydrologic calibration and validation of SWAT in a snow-dominated Rocky Mountain watershed, Montana, USA. J Am Water Resour Assoc 44(6):1411–1430

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Ahmadi M, Minaei M, Ebrahimi O et al (2020) Evaluation of WEPP and EPM for improved predictions of soil erosion in mountainous watersheds: a case study of Kangir River basin, Iran. Model Earth Syst Environ 6:2303–2315. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40808-020-00814-w

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Allen RG, Tasumi M, Trezza R (2007) Satellite-based energy balance for mapping evapotranspiration with internalized calibration (METRIC)—model. ASCE J Irrig Drain Eng 133(4):380–394

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Ananda J, Herath G (2003) Soil erosion in developing countries: a socio-eco-nomic appraisal. J Environ Manage 68:343–353

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Arabi M, Frankenberger JR, Engel BA, Arnold JG (2008) Representation of agricultural conservation practices with SWAT. Hydrol Process 22(16):3042–3055

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Arnold JG, Williams JR, Srinivasan R, King KW (1996) SWAT: soil and water assessment tool. USDA-ARS, Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory, Temple

    Google Scholar 

  11. Arnold JG, Srinivasan R, Muttiah RS, Williams JR (1998) Large area hydrologic modeling and assessment part 1: model development. J Am Water Resour Assoc 34(1):73–89

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Arnold JG, Kiniry JR, Srinivasan R, Williams JR, Haney EB, and Neitsch SL (2012a) Soil and water assessment tool, input/output file documentation, version 2012. Texas Water Research Institute. Technical Report 439, College Station

  13. Arnold JG, Moriasi DN, Gassman PW, Abbaspour KC, White MJ, Srinivasan R et al (2012b) SWAT: model use, calibration, and validation. Trans ASABE 55(4):1491–1508

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Baker TJ, Miller SN (2013) Using the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT) to assess land use impact on water resources in an East African watershed. J Hydrol 486:100–111

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Bastiaanssen WGM, Noordman EJM, Pelgrum H, Davids G, Thoreson BP, Allen RG (2005) SEBAL model with remotely sensed data to improve water-resources management under actual field conditions. J Irrig Drain Eng 131:85–93

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Beasley DB, Hyggins LF (1995) ANSWERS user’s manual. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Chicago

  17. Betrie GD, Mohamed YA, Van Griensven A, Srinivasan R (2011) Sediment management modeling in the Blue Nile Basin using the SWAT model. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 15:807–818

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Beven KJ (2011) Rainfall–runoff modelling: the primer, 2nd edn. Wiley, Hoboken

    Google Scholar 

  19. Boardman J, Shepheard ML, Walker E, Foster IDL (2009) Soil erosion and risk assessment for on- and off-farm impacts: a test case using the Midhurst area, West Sussex, UK. J Environ Manage 90:2578–2588

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Boufala M, El Hmaidi A, Chadli K, Essahlaoui A, El Ouali A, Taia S (2019) Hydrological modeling of water and soil resources in the basin upstream of the Allal El Fassi dam (Upper Sebou watershed. Model Earth Syst Environ. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40808-019-00621-y

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Boufala M, El Hmaidi A, Chadli K, Essahlaoui A, El Ouali A (2020) E3S web of conferences 150,03014(2020). https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/202015003014

  22. Briak H, Mrabet R, Moussadek R, Aboumaria K (2019) Use of a calibrated SWAT model to evaluate the effects of agricultural BMPs on sediments of the Kalaya river basin (North of Morocco). Int Soil Water Conserv Res. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iswcr.2019.02.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Chadli K, Boufala M (2021) Assessment of water quality using Moroccan WQI and multivariate statistics in the Sebou watershed (Morocco). Arab J Geosci 14:27. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12517-020-06296-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Dawadi S, Ahmad S (2013) Evaluating the impact of demand-side management on water resources under changing climatic conditions and increasing population. J Environ Manag 114:261–275

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Dechmi F, Skhiri A (2013) Evaluation of best management practices under intensive irrigation using the SWAT model. Agric Water Manag 123:55–64

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. DeNicola E, Aburizaiza OS, Siddique A, Khwaja H, Carpenter DO (2015) Climate change and water scarcity: the case of Saudi Arabia. Ann Glob Health 81(3):342–353

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Di Luzio M, Srinivasan R, Arnold JG, Neitsch SL (2002) Soil and water assessment tool. ArcView GIS interface manual: version 2000. GSWRL Report 02-03, BRC Report 02-07. Texas Water Resources Institute, College Station, p 346. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10010013

  28. FAO (2015) Global soil status, processes, and trends. Status of the World’s Soil Resources (SWSR) Main Report of the Food and Agriculture Organization, New York, United Nations

  29. Forsee WJ, Ahmad S (2011) Evaluating urban storm water infrastructure design in response to projected climate change. J Hydrol Eng 16(11):865–873

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Frederick KD, Major DC (1997) Climate change and water resources. Clim Chang 37(1):7–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Gitau MW, Chaubey I (2010) Regionalization of SWAT model parameters for use in ungauged watersheds. Water 2(25):849–871. https://doi.org/10.3390/w2040849,2010

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Githui F, Selle B, Thayalakumaran T (2011) Recharge estimation using remotely sensed evapotranspiration in an irrigated catchment in southeast Australia. Hydrol Process 26:1379–1389. https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.8274

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Green Water Credits (2010) Proof-of-Concept, Sebou catchment (Project Sebou Eau Vert). Work Plan. Draft

  34. Gyamfi C, Ndambuki JM, Anornu GK et al (2017) Groundwater recharge modelling in a large scale basin: an example using the SWAT hydrologic model. Model Earth Syst Environ 3:1361–1369. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40808-017-0383-z

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Halefom A, Sisay E, Khare D et al (2017) Hydrological modeling of urban catchment using semi-distributed model. Model Earth Syst Environ 3:683–692. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40808-017-0327-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Hargreaves G, Samani Z (1985) Reference crop evapotranspiration from temperature. Appl Eng Agric 1(2):96–99

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Haverkamp S, Fohrer N, Frede HG (2005) Assessment of the effect of land use patterns on hydrologic landscape functions: a comprehensive GIS-based tool to minimize model uncertainty resulting from spatial aggregation. Hydrol Process 19(3):715–727

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Hazan R, Lazarevic D (1965) Hydrologie en zone karstique au Maroc: Sebou—Beth. Pub. Annuaires Hydrol. Maroc 1962-1963 et Actes Coll. hydrol. roches fissurées. Dubrovnik 1965. publi. 1967. Ass. Int. Hydrol Sci UNESCO Paris 1967:275–292

    Google Scholar 

  39. Hirt C, Filmer MS, Featherstone WE (2010) Comparison and validation of recent freely available ASTER-GDEM ver1, STRM ver4.1 and GEODATA DEM-9S ver3 digital elevation models over Australia. Austral J Earth Sci 57(3):337–347. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-019-02443-y

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Immerzeel WW, Droogers P (2008) Calibration of a distributed hydrological model based on satellite evapotranspiration. J Hydrol 349:411–424. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2007.11.017

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Karrat L, ElouadeiheK Brehert JG, Hessane MA (2016) Erosion et matières transportées en suspension dans le bassin versant de l’Oued Sebou en amont du barrage Allal Fassi (Moyen Atlas, Maroc). Revue Marocaine de Géomorphologie, Numéro 1:47–61

    Google Scholar 

  42. Makwana JJ, Tiwari MK (2017) Hydrological stream flow modelling using soil and water assessment tool (SWAT) and neural networks (NNs) for the Limkheda watershed, Gujarat, India. Model Earth Syst Environ 3:635–645. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40808-017-0323-y

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Monteith JL (1965) Evaporation and the environment. The state and movement of water in living organisms. In: XIXth Symposium. Soc. for Exp. Biol., Swansea. Cambridge University Press, pp 205–234

  44. Moriasi DN, Arnold JG, Van Liew MW, Bingner RL, Harmel RD, Veith TL (2007) Model evaluation guidelines for systematic quantification of accuracy in watershed simulations. Trans ASABE 50(3):885–900

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Mosbahi M, Benabdallah S (2019) Assessment of land management practices on soil erosion using SWAT model in a Tunisian semi-arid catchment. J Soils Sedim

  46. Moss B (2008) Water pollution by agriculture. Philos Trans R Soc B 363:659–666

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Naciri S, Ansari H, Ziaei AN (2020) Simulation of water balance equation components using SWAT model in Samalqan Watershed (Iran). Arab J Geosci 13:421. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12517-020-05366-y

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Ndomba PM, Van Griensven A (2011) Suitability of SWAT model for sediment yields modeling in eastern Africa, advances in data, methods, models and their applications in geoscience. Technical Paper. University of Dares Salam, Dares Salaam, Tanzania

    Google Scholar 

  49. Neitsch SL, Arnold JG, Kiniry JR, William JR (2005) Soil and water assessment tool theoretical documentation, version 2005. In: Grassland, Soil, and Water Research Laboratory—Agricultural Research Service. Blackland Research Center—Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, p 494

  50. Neitsch SL, Arnold JG, Kiniry JR, Williams JR, King KW (2011) Soil and water assessment tool—theoretical documentation— version 2009. Grassland, Soil, and Water Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service and Blackland Research Center, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Temple, Texas

  51. Paul M (2016) Impacts of land use and climate changes on hydrological processes in South Dakota Watersheds

  52. Paul M, Negahban-Azar M (2018) Sensitivity and uncertainty analysis for streamflow prediction using multiple optimization algorithms and objective functions: san Joaquin Watershed, California. Model Earth Syst Environ 4:1509–1525. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40808-018-0483-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Paul M, Rajib MA, Ahiablame L (2017) Spatial and temporal evaluation of hydrological response to climate and land use change in three South Dakota watersheds. JAWRA 53:69–88

    Google Scholar 

  54. Ramos MC, Benito C, Martínez-Casasnovas JA (2015) Simulating soil conservation measures to control soil and nutrient losses in a small, vineyard dominated, basin. Agric Ecosyst Environ 213:194–208

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Schilling J, Freier KP, Hertig E, Scheffran J (2012) Climate change, vulnerability and adaptation in North Africa with focus on Morocco. Agric Ecosyst Environ 156:12–26

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. SCS (1972) Sect. 4: hydrology In National Engineering Handbook. SCS

  57. Setegn GS, Srinivasan R, Dargahi B (2008) Hydrological modeling in the Lake Tana Basin, Ethiopia using the SWAT model. Open Hydrol J 2(1)

  58. Shao W, Cai J, Liu J, Luan Q, Mao X, Yang G, Wang J, Zhang H, Zhang J (2017) Impact of water scarcity on the Fenhe River Basin and Mitigation Strategies. Water 9:30

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Sisay E, Halefom A, Khare D et al (2017) Hydrological modelling of ungauged urban watershed using SWAT model. Model Earth Syst Environ 3:693–702. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40808-017-0328-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Strauch M, Volk M (2013) SWAT plant growth modification for improved modeling of perennial vegetation in the tropics. Ecol Model 269:98–112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.08.013

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Su Z (2002) The Surface Energy Balance System (SEBS) for estimation of turbulent heat fluxes. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 6(1):85–100

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Terink W, Hunink J, Droogers P, Reuter H, Van Lynden G, Kaufman S (2011) Green water credits Morocco: inception phase. Impacts of land management options in the Sebou Basin: using the soil water and assessment tool—SWAT. In: Green Water Credits Report M1. Future Water Report 101

  63. Tuppad P, Douglas-Mankin KR, Lee T, Srinivasan R, Arnold JG (2011) Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) hydrologic/water quality model: extended capability and wider adoption. Trans ASABE 54(5):1677–1684

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. USAID (2010) The Middle East and North Africa Water Center Network. USAID, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  65. Vörösmary CJ, Green P, Salisbury J, Lammers RB (2000) Global water resources: vulnerability from climate change and population growth. Science 289(5477):284–288

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Wang R, Bowling LC, Cherkauer KA (2016) Estimation of the effects of climate variability on crop yield in the Midwest USA. Agric For Meteorol 216:141–156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Williams JR (1995) Chapter 25. The EPIC Model. In: Computer models of watershed hydrology. Water Resources Publications. Highlands Ranch, pp 909–1000

  68. Yang Q, Zhao Z, Benoy G, Chow TL, Rees HW, Bourque CPA, Meng FR (2010) A watershed-scale assessment of the cost-effectiveness of sediment abatement with flow diversion terraces. J Environ Qual 39:220

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Zettam A, Taleb A, Sauvage S, Boithias L, Belaidi N, Sánchez-Pérez J (2017) Modeling hydrology and sediment transport in a semi-arid and anthropized catchment using the SWAT model: the case of the Tafna river (northwest Algeria). Water 9:216

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M’Hamed Boufala.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Boufala, M., El Hmaidi, A., Essahlaoui, A. et al. Assessment of the best management practices under a semi-arid basin using SWAT model (case of M’dez watershed, Morocco). Model. Earth Syst. Environ. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40808-021-01123-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • Best management practice
  • M’dez watershed
  • SWAT model
  • Water balance
  • Sediment
  • Erosion