Estimating Evapotranspiration for Dryland Cropping Systems in the Semiarid Texas High Plains Using SWAT Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016 American Water Resources Association. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is one of the most widely used watershed models for simulating hydrology in response to agricultural management practices. However, limited studies have been performed to evaluate the SWAT model's ability to estimate daily and monthly evapotranspiration (ET) in semiarid regions. ET values were simulated using ArcSWAT 2012 for a lysimeter field managed under dryland conditions at the USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory at Bushland, Texas, and compared with measured lysimeter values from 2000 to 2010. Two scenarios were performed to compare SWAT's performance: (1) use of default plant leaf area index (LAI) values in the embedded plant database and (2) adjusted LAI values. Scenario 1 resulted in an "unsatisfactory" Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) of 0.42 and 0.38 for the calibration and validation periods, respectively. Scenario 2 resulted in a "satisfactory" NSE value for the calibration period while achieving a "good" NSE of 0.70 for the validation period. SWAT generally underestimated ET at both the daily and monthly levels. Overestimation during fallow years may be due to the limitations of the pothole function used to simulate furrow diking. Users should be aware of potential errors associated with using default LAI parameters. Inaccuracies in ET estimation may also stem from errors in the plant stress functions, particularly when evaluating water management practices for dryland watersheds.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Marek, G. W., Gowda, P. H., Evett, S. R., Baumhardt, R. L., Brauer, D. K., Howell, T. A., Marek, T. H., & Srinivasan, R.

citation count

  • 27

complete list of authors

  • Marek, Gary W||Gowda, Prasanna H||Evett, Steven R||Baumhardt, R Louis||Brauer, David K||Howell, Terry A||Marek, Thomas H||Srinivasan, R

publication date

  • April 2016