The Wageningen Rainfall Simulator : set-up and calibration of an indoor nozzle-type rainfall simulator for soil erosion studies

Lassu, Tamas; Seeger, K.M.; Peters, P.D.; Keesstra, S.D.


The set-up and characterisation of an indoor nozzle-type rainfall simulator (RS) at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, are presented. It is equipped with four Lechler nozzles (two nr. 460·788 and two nr. 461·008). The tilting irrigation plot is 6 m long and 2·5 m wide. An electrical pump supplies the constant flow during the experiments. The spatial distribution of the rainfall was measured with 60 rain gauges equally distributed on the experimental plot. Thies® Laser Precipitation Monitor was used to measure the size and falling velocity of the raindrops. Four different flow rates were applied (Q1–4). From the collected data, spatial rainfall intensity and spatial kinetic energy distribution maps were created; Christiansen uniformity coefficient was calculated for each flow rate. The results of the experiments revealed that the rainfall parameters (spatial rainfall intensity, kinetic energy, raindrop size distribution and fall velocity) in the RS are not homogeneous (Christiansen uniformity ranges from 68·5% to 83·2%). Accordingly, the whole plot can only be irrigated irregularly applying a wide range of intensities and rainfall energies. The RS offers a good opportunity to study great variety of process intensities such as splash erosion, runoff generation, soil aggregate stability, organic matter migration and scaled landscape development.