Water use efficiency of controlled alternate irrigation on root-divided maize plants

Shaozhong Kang, Zongsuo Liang, Wei Hu, Jianhua ZHANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)


A new method of irrigation was designed and tested for its water use efficiency (WUE). Maize plants were grown in pots with their roots divided and established into two or three separated containers of which irrigation and soil drying were controlled alternately. Results showed that when the two halves of the root system were alternatively exposed to a drying soil and a soil with its water content maintained above 55% or 65% of its field capacity, water consumption was reduced by 34.4-36.8% and the total biomass production was reduced by only 6-11%, when compared to the well-irrigated plants. Significant increase in WUE, root to shoot ratio and stomatal resistance for water diffusion were observed as a result of such treatment. Leaf transpiration was reduced substantially while the rate of photosynthesis and leaf water content were not significantly altered. The results were also compared to root-divided plants of which irrigation was fixed to one container only and showed that a better WU, root development and distribution, shoot biomass production were achieved by the alternate drying and rewetting. We conclude that the controlled alternate irrigation (CAI) is an effective and water-saving irrigation method and may have the potential to be used in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1998

Scopus Subject Areas

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

User-Defined Keywords

  • Irrigation
  • Maize (Zea mays)
  • Soil drying
  • Water use efficiency
  • Water-saving cultivation


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