SWAT model for modelling agricultural changes, water quantity and quality

Published on
March 21, 2013

The SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) model can be used for modelling agricultural changes and water quantity and quality. That’s the conclusion of a research project of Alterra Wageningen UR in the Limpopo River basin, South Africa.

The model developed for the Nsama sub-basin could not be calibrated and validated, and results should be considered as a try-out and demonstration application. The following conclusions can be drawn:

  • The strength of the SWAT model is that all physical processes are included in the model. All processes of the hydrological cycle can be evaluated, including crop growth, irrigation, and water quality.
  • The different options of the tool makes it highly data demanding and therefore rather complex. At the same time sufficient new technologies are being to overcome these problems in data shortage, such as remote sensing techniques and much more public domain data becomes available on the internet.
  • Using SWAT there are many research questions to be addressed, like: impact and adaptation to climate change, measures to increase crop production and as well in relation to irrigation management, changes in land cover and/or crops, etc.

Agricultural production changes

Based on the experience of this try-out with the SWAT model and the ArcSWAT user interface, the model will be used further for analysis of agricultural production changes and their effects on water quantity and quality. Also in combination with the Agricultural Policy Environmental eXtender (APEX) model, which can be linked to the SWAT model.