This study was the first to provide detailed methodological steps to estimate in-situ runoff curve number (CN) for selected agricultural fields in the State of Iowa via rainfall simulators. Representative fields in six counties were chosen to identify the effects of the following variables on runoff CN: rainfall intensity, soil type, soil moisture condition, tillage practice, and residue cover. The study also re-evaluated the range of the existing CN values for the different hydrologic soil groups in Iowa, and revised the equations describing the CN method to consider variables such as residue cover and soil moisture in a more detailed manner than the existing USDA method. The findings of this investigation showed that rainfall simulators are useful instruments for estimating in-situ runoff CN because rainfall intensity was adjustable during an experimental run. Further, the simulators eliminate the need of natural storm events. The range of the estimated CN values in summer agreed well (deviation less than 6%) with the reported CN values. However, the range of the estimated CN values in fall was generally less the reported CN values (deviation of about 40%) due to the high residue levels found in the fields after harvest. The effects of tillage practice and crop type were insignificant compared to residue cover and soil moisture. The study has also shown that the initial abstraction I a is not linearly proportional to the potential maximum retention S, which agrees with the available literature.
Elhakeem, M. and Papanicolaou, A.N. (2009): Estimation of the runoff curve number via direct rainfall simulator measurements in the state of Iowa, USA. Water Resources Management. DOI: 10.1007/s11269-008-9390-1