Optimizing water conservation and utilization with a regulated deficit irrigation strategy in woody crops: A review

Yu Chen, Jian Hua Zhang, Mo Xian Chen*, Fu Yuan Zhu*, Tao Song*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This review emphasizes the significance of combining regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) with woody crops, as they have higher water productivity (WP) and are tolerant to mild water deficits. After conducting the analysis, it was found that for most woody crops, reducing irrigation water by 20.0–30.0% has a negligible impact on yield, typically within a variation range of 10.0%, and it leads to an increase in WP of 10.0–30.0%. When irrigation water is reduced by 40.0–50.0%, the impact on yield varies significantly depending on the species, but the WP generally approaches its highest value; in general, it can increase by 25.0% or more and sometimes even exceed 50.0%. However, when irrigation water is further reduced, it significantly affects yield, and there is a limited increase or even decrease in WP. Moreover, adjusting irrigation amounts during noncritical water demand periods minimizes the impact on yield and fruit size, enhancing water-saving effectiveness. Water-saving techniques trigger various plant responses, improving resistance to water deficits, promoting reproductive growth, and protecting against drought-related damage. Despite potential yield reductions, ongoing research demonstrates positive outcomes in WP, crop yield, and fruit quality in various woody crops. Water-saving techniques offer economic benefits through cost savings and pest reduction, while finding the appropriate balance between water use, yield, and quality is vital for agricultural success and sustainable water resource management. Moreover, water-saving techniques optimize nutrient uptake and heavy metal absorption in woody crop agricultural systems, addressing heavy metal stress, soil salinization, and emissions. Combining multiple irrigation methods, such as partial root-zone drying (PRD), shows immense potential in water conservation and impact on fruits. Integrating PRD with innovative techniques, such as precision irrigation or sensor-based systems, promises remarkable water savings and optimized crop yields, revolutionizing agricultural practices and addressing water scarcity challenges for sustainable irrigation management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108523
Number of pages18
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

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

User-Defined Keywords

  • Economic benefits
  • Fruit quality
  • Fruit yield
  • Regulated deficit irrigation
  • Water productivity
  • Woody crops


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