An improved water use efficiency of cereals under temporal and spatial deficit irrigation in north China

Taisheng Du, Shaozhong Kang*, Jingsheng Sun, Xiying Zhang, Jianhua ZHANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Water shortage is the major bottleneck that limits sustainable development of agriculture in north China. Crop physiological water-saving irrigation methods such as temporal (regulated deficit irrigation) and spatial (partial root zone irrigation) deficit irrigation have been tested with much improved crop water use efficiency (WUE) without significant yield reduction. Field experiments were conducted to investigate the effect of (1) spatial deficit irrigation on spring maize in arid Inland River Basin of northwest China during 1997-2000; (2) temporal deficit irrigation on winter wheat in semi-arid Haihe River Basin during 2003-2007 and (3) temporal deficit irrigation on winter wheat and summer maize in Yellow River Basin during 2006-2007. Results showed that alternate furrow irrigation (AFI) maintained similar photosynthetic rate (Pn) but reduced transpiration rate (Tr), and thus increased leaf WUE of maize. It also showed that the improved WUE might only be gained for AFI under less water amount per irrigation. The feasible irrigation cycle is 7d in the extremely arid condition in Inner River Basin of northwest China and less water amount with more irrigation frequency is better for both grain yield and WUE in semi-arid Haihe River Basin of north China. Field experiment in Yellow River Basin of north China also suggests that mild water deficit at early seedling stage is beneficial for grain yield and WUE of summer maize, and the deficit timing and severity should be modulated according to the drought tolerance of different crop varieties. The economical evapotranspiration for winter wheat in Haihe River Basin, summer maize in Yellow River Basin of north China and spring maize in Inland River Basin of northwest China are 420.0 mm, 432.5 mm and 450.0 mm respectively. Our study in the three regions in recent decade also showed that AFI should be a useful water-saving irrigation method for wide-spaced cereals in arid region, but mild water deficit in earlier stage might be a practical irrigation strategy for close-planting cereals. Application of such temporal and spatial deficit irrigation in field-grown crops has greater potential in saving water, maintaining economic yield and improving WUE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-74
Number of pages9
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Volume97
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes

User-Defined Keywords

  • Alternate partial root zone irrigation
  • Cereals production
  • China food production
  • Deficit irrigation
  • Water-saving agriculture

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