Date of this Version
Field experiments were conducted from 1992 to 1995 to estimate ground water recharge rates at two sites located within a 2.7-hectare agricultural field. The field lies in a sand plain setting in central Minnesota and is cropped continuously in field corn. The sites are located at a topographically high (upland) site and a topographically low (lowland) site in an effort to quantify the effects of depression focusing of recharge. Three site-specific methods were used to estimate recharge rates: well hydrograph analysis, chlorofluorocarbon age dating, and an unsaturated zone water balance. All three recharge methods indicated that recharge rates at the lowland site (annual average of all methods of 29 cm) exceeded those at the upland site (annual average of 18 cm). On an annual basis, estimates by the individual methods ranged from 12 to 44 percent of precipitation at the upland site and from 21 to 83 percent at the lowland site. The difference in recharge rates between the sites is primarily attributed to depression focusing of surface water run-on at the lowland site. However, two other factors were also important: the presence of thin lamellae at the upland site, and coarser textured soils below a depth of 1.5 m at the lowland site.