The Soil and Water Assessment Tool: Historical development, applications, and future research directions

  • Gassman P
  • Reyes M
  • Green C
 et al. 
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The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model is a continuation of nearly 30 years of modeling efforts conducted by the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS). SWAT has gained international acceptance as a robust interdisciplinary watershed modeling tool as evidenced by international SWAT conferences, hundreds of SWAT‐related papers presented at numerous other scientific meetings, and dozens of articles published in peer‐reviewed journals. The model has also been adopted as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) software package and is being used by many U.S. federal and state agencies, including the USDA within the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). At present, over 250 peer‐reviewed published articles have been identified that report SWAT applications, reviews of SWAT components, or other research that includes SWAT. Many of these peer‐reviewed articles are summarized here according to relevant application categories such as streamflow calibration and related hydrologic analyses, climate change impacts on hydrology, pollutant load assessments, comparisons with other models, and sensitivity analyses and calibration techniques. Strengths and weaknesses of the model are presented, and recommended research needs for SWAT are also provided.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Developmental history
  • Flow analysis
  • Modeling
  • SWAT
  • Water quality

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  • P W Gassman

  • M R Reyes

  • C H Green

  • Arnold

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