The effects of partial rootzone drying on root, trunk sap flow and water balance in an irrigated pear (Pyrus communis L.) orchard

Shaozhong Kang*, Xiaotao Hu, Peter Jerie, Jianhua ZHANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Partial rootzone drying (PRD) means that part of the root system is watered as in full irrigation while the rest is exposed to soil drying. This practice is predicted to influence field hydrological circle. We studied the effect of this practice on soil water distribution, root and trunk sap flow, water consumption of pear trees, and capillary contribution from ground water table and water balance for three months in an irrigated orchard with a shallow ground water table. The irrigation treatments included: (a) conventional flooded irrigation (CFI), (b) fixed partial rootzone drying (FPRD), and (c) alternate partial rootzone drying (APRD). Root and trunk sap flows were monitored using a heat-pulse sap flow meter. The results showed that there were significant differences of soil water content in both sides of rootzone under partial drying. The capillary contribution from ground water table was significantly increased in APRD and FPRD when compared with CFI. More significantly, the total irrigation amount was greatly reduced, by 43.64 and 45.84%, respectively, for APRD and FPRD. The two PRD treatments used more soil-stored water while CFI had more drainage. The root sap flow on the wet side was substantially enhanced as a result of PRD, and was greater than that from same side in CFI. The trunk sap flow in FPRD and APRD was smaller than that in CFI. On average, both APRD and FPRD reduced plant daily water consumption by about 9.96 and 17.97%, respectively, when compared to CFI during the PRD period. Daily root water flow was a significant function of the reference evapotranspiration. The daily trunk water flow was also related to the reference evapotranspiration but the CFI carried more water than APRD and FPRD under the same evaporation demand, suggesting a restriction of transpirational water loss in the PRD trees. CFI needed a higher soil water content to carry the same amount of trunk flow than the PRD trees, suggesting the hydraulic conductance of roots in PRD trees enhanced, and the roots had a greater water uptake capacity than in CFI when the average soil water content in the rootzone was the same.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-206
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2003

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Water Science and Technology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Evapotranspiration
  • Heat-pulse
  • Plant water uptake
  • Soil drying
  • Water table


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