Partial rootzone irrigation increases water use efficiency, maintains yield and enhances economic profit of cotton in arid area

Li Song Tang, Yan Li*, Jianhua ZHANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Partial rootzone irrigation (PRI) can substantially reduce irrigation amount and has been demonstrated as a promising irrigation method for crops in arid or semiarid areas. Many earlier researches have shown that PRI reduces leaf transpiration by narrowing stomatal opening. In this study we verified the hypothesis that PRI can also save irrigation water by substantially reducing soil evaporation. Field experiment was conducted in an arid area where cotton production almost completely relies on irrigation. Water was applied to furrows in the cotton field either alternatively (AFI, alternative furrow irrigation), or evenly to all the furrows (CFI, conventional furrow irrigation), or to one fixed furrow in every two (FFI, fixed furrow irrigation). Our results show that surface evaporation constitutes a large fraction of the irrigation water loss from cropped field (more than 20%), and with the two PRI treatments nearly 40% of the evaporative water loss is saved. Transpiration accounted for 48%, 58% and 57% of the total amount of irrigation respectively for the CFI, AFI and FFI treatments. This result suggests that PRI increases the proportion of applied water that is transpired, and therefore leads to a higher water use efficiency than regular irrigation. Overall, when irrigation was reduced by 30%, the average final yield loss of AFI was only 4.44%, a non-significant reduction statistically. The FFI had a significant reduction in yield of 12.01% in comparison to CFI. Moreover, PRI brings in earlier flowering and a higher economical return due to early harvested cotton. This indicates that the final economical output could compensate for the loss of cotton yield due to water-saving. With very little extra cost to implementation, PRI proves a very promising method in cotton production in arid zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1527-1533
Number of pages7
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010

Scopus Subject Areas

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

User-Defined Keywords

  • Arid area
  • Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum)
  • Evaporation
  • Partial rootzone irrigation
  • Transpiration
  • Water use efficiency
  • Yield


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