Analysis of percolation and seepage through paddy bunds

Han Chen Huang, Chen Wuing Liu, Shih Kai Chen, Jui Sheng Chen

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43 Scopus citations


This study investigates percolation and seepage through the bunds of flat and terraced paddies. Field experiments were conducted in Hsin-Pu of Hsin-Chu County, Taiwan, to measure the soil water content of various types of bund. Measurements revealed that the soil was unsaturated along the sloped surface of the terrace. Experimental results also indicated that seepage face flow did not develop even after 2 days of heavy rainfall. A three-dimensional model, FEMWATER, was adopted to simulate percolation and lateral seepage under various bund conditions. In a flat paddy, the rate of percolation of bunds under which a plow sole was located, was 0.40 cm d-1, close to the average infiltration rate of a flooded paddy. The percolation of the bund without plow sole was 0.85 cm d-1, or double the average infiltration rate of a flooded paddy. Infiltration in the central area of a terraced paddy is mainly vertically downward, whereas flow near the bund is predominantly lateral. The paddy field near the bund has a high hydraulic gradient. The simulated infiltration flux into the bund (1.47 cm d-1) after 85 days of rice cultivation exceeded that into the central area (0.54 cm d-1) by a factor of 2.72. The final percolation flux from the bund (1.24 cm d-1) also exceeded the final percolation from the plow sole (0.68 cm d-1) by a factor of 1.82. The lateral seepage fluxes through the bund, downward and upward along the slope surface, are 2.01 and -2.12 cm d-1, respectively. However, the lateral seepage flux does not fully saturate the surface of the hillside soil. A simulation clearly shows that the seepage upstream of the paddy field does not move water downstream and is reused as subsurface return flow. Both experimental and simulation results clarify the mechanisms of water movement in the terraced paddy and reveal the existence of an unsaturated seepage face along the sloping surface of the terraced field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-25
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 22 Dec 2003


  • Bund
  • Percolation
  • Seepage
  • Terrace


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