Optimizing ET-based irrigation scheduling for wheat and maize with water constraints

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Transactions of the ASABE, 2017, 60 (6), pp. 2053 - 2065
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© 2017 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Deficit irrigation has been shown to increase crop water use efficiency (WUE) under certain conditions, even though the yield is slightly reduced. In this study, the Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM) was first calibrated with measured data from a large weighing lysimeter from 1998 to 2003 at the Yucheng Experimental Station in the North China Plain for daily evapotranspiration (ET), soil water storage (0-120 cm), leaf area index (LAI), aboveground biomass, and grain yield. The calibrated model was then used to explore crop responses to ET-based irrigation management using weather data from 1958 to 2015 and identify the most suitable ET-based irrigation schedules for the area. Irrigation amount was determined by constraining irrigation to a percentage of potential crop ET (40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% ETc) at the various growth stages of wheat [planting to before winter dormancy (P-D), green up to booting (G-B), booting to flowering (B-F), and flowering to maturity (F-M)] and of maize [planting to silking (P-S) and silking to maturity (S-M)], subject to seasonal water availability limits of 100/50, 200/100, 300/150, and 400/200 mm and no water limit for wheat/maize seasons, respectively. In general, wheat was more responsive to irrigation than maize, while greater influence of weather variation was simulated on maize than on wheat. For wheat with seasonal water limits, the highest average WUE was simulated with the highest targeted ETc levels at both the G-B and B-F stages and lower targeted ETc levels at the P-D and F-M stages. However, the highest average grain yield was simulated with the highest targeted ETc levels at all four growth stages for no water limit and the 400 mm water limit, or at both the G-B and B-F stages for the 300 and 200 mm water limits. For maize, lower targeted ETc levels after silking did not significantly affect maize production due to the high season rainfall, but irrigation of 60% ETc before silking was recommended. These results could be used as guidelines for precision irrigation along with real-time weather information.
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