Managing water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems

Agricultural Water Management 240 (2020) 106293

Publication by CAU and ARO:

Xun Wu a, Qiang Zuo b, Jianchu Shi b,*, Lichun Wang c, Xuzhang Xue c, Alon Ben-Gal d
a College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
b College of Land Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Key Laboratory of Plant-Soil Interactions, Ministry of Education, Key Laboratory of Arable Land
Conservation (North China), Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing 100193, China
c National Research Center of Intelligent Equipment for Agriculture, Beijing 100097, China
d Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, mobile post Negev 85280, Israel


During wetting-drying cycles, divergence is often found between the immediately improved soil water conditions after re-watering and the recovery of plant water status from stress, which ensues only gradually. Such an apparent hysteresis effect of water stress (HEWS) is usually neglected in simulating root-water-uptake (RWU) by empirical models. To consider HEWS in the empirical macroscopic RWU model of Feddes, a water stress recovery coefficient (δ) was introduced based on two lysimetric experiments under greenhouse and field conditions for
winter wheat. The integrated effects of historical water stress events were investigated by assuming that the normalized influence weight of each past stress event declines with the increase of time interval before simulation as an exponential function of attenuation rate. Although δ could be described by an exponential function of an integrative index representing the general historical stress extent (R2 = 0.65, P < 0.001), with an attenuation rate smaller than 0.13, it is challenging to establish such a function practically. An attenuation rate close to zero means HEWS is mainly dominated by the water stress on the previous day, validated by a significant relationship between the relative transpiration or stomatal conductance on the day after irrigation and the water stress extent on the day before irrigation. Therefore, a simplification, substituting the integrative index in the exponential function with the stress extent on the previous day, was proposed for estimating δ. Compared to the traditional RWU model, the revised model considering HEWS was more successful in simulating relative transpiration and soil water dynamics. Root mean square error of relative transpiration was reduced by 65.9 % and of soil water by 30 % in the greenhouse experiment and by 7.4 % and 12.5 %, respectively, in the field experiment.

Catena 190: 104511 (2020)

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Publication by IAS – CSIC:

Lizardo Reyna-Bowen a,b, Pilar Fernandez-Rebollo b, Jesús Fernández-Habas b, José A. Gómez a

aInstitute for Sustainable Agriculture, IAS, CSIC, Avenida Menéndez Pidal S/N, 14004 Córdoba, Spain

bDepartment of Forestry Engineering, University of Córdoba, University Campus of Rabanales, Madrid-Cádiz Road Km. 396, 14014 Córdoba, Spain



This study evaluated the effect on SOC concentration, stock and fractions in a dehesa divided into two areas ofsimilar soil type but different soil management. Thefirst area was a pastured dehesa (P) with young Holm oaks,planted in 1995 (70 trees ha−1, 12 m × 12 m) and, since 2000, grazed by sheep (3 sheep ha−1) with an averageperiod of grazing of six months a year. Prior to this it was managed in the same way as the second adjacent area.The second area was a cropped dehesa (C) with widely spaced mature Holm oak (14 trees in a 12-ha dehesa), onwhich a mixture of vetch and oats was cultivated every three years and tilled with a chisel plough. After 22 yearsboth dehesas showed similar SOC stock distribution amongst areas with different soil management, with ap-proximately 40 t ha−1in the top 100 cm of the soil. The P dehesa only showed higher SOC stock than the Cdehesa on the surface 0–2 cm (5.86 ± 0.56 t ha-1vs3.24 ± 0.37 t ha−1). The influence of the trees, increasingSOC concentration and content when compared to the area outside the canopy projection, was only detectedunder the mature trees in the C dehesa. In the area outside the tree canopy, both systems showed a similardistribution of soil organic carbon among their different fractions, with the unprotected fraction being thedominant one, followed by the physically and chemically protected fractions. In the C dehesa, the mature trees’presence significantly modified the distribution of soil organic carbon in their surroundings, increasing therelevance of the unprotected fraction. The distribution of soil organic carbon in the unprotected and physicallyand chemically protected fractions were strongly correlated to the overall organic carbon concentration in thesoil, indicating the rapid response of these three fractions to management, with the biochemically protectedfraction showing no correlation, suggesting a high resilience to the changes in carbon budget.

Xun Wu,  Jianchu Shi, Qiang Zuo, Mo Zhang, Xuzhang Xue, Lichun Wang, Ting Zhang & Alon Ben-Gal


Rational parameterization of the soil water stress reduction function in root water uptake model is crucial for accurate description of root water uptake and simulation of soil water dynamics in a soil–plant system. In this study, we propose three improvements to a popular transpiration-based approach to parameterize the water stress reduction function in a widely used macroscopic root water uptake model. The improvements are based on the interdependent relationships between soil and plant water status and consideration of effects of (1) relative distribution of soil water to roots on transpiration; (2) differences in growth levels of plants exposed to different levels of water stresses on potential transpiration; and (3) hysteresis of water stress on parameter optimization through identifying and discarding the data involved in the recovery periods when the discrepancy between soil and plant water availability is significant. Lysimetric experiments with winter wheat planted alternatively in greenhouse soil columns and in a field were conducted to test the proposed improvements. Through minimizing the residuals between the measured and estimated actual transpiration, the optimized parameterization was used to set up the root water uptake model. Thereupon, actual transpiration and relative transpiration were estimated and soil water content distributions were simulated. The estimated actual (RMSE ≤ 0.09 cm day−1) and relative (RMSE = 0.06) transpiration agreed well with the measurements. The simulated soil water content distributions also matched the measured values well for both experiments (RMSE ≤ 0.023 cm3 cm−3). Omitting any of the three proposed improvements reduced the estimation accuracy of relative transpiration, as the individual contribution ratio for each improvement was between 21.2 and 51.2%. The improvements should be reasonable in providing rational parameter estimation for the water stress reduction function, from which root water uptake models can be established to accurately evaluate plant transpiration and simulate soil water flow in a soil–plant system. The parameterization strategy for the water stress reduction function of root water uptake not only benefits accurate evaluation of plant transpiration under drought conditions but also contributes to further study and description regarding the apparent hysteresis of root water uptake after re-watering.

M.Biddoccua, G.Guzmánb, G.Capelloa, T.Thielkec, P.Straussc, S.Winterd, J.G.Zallere, A.Nicolaif, D.Cluzeauf, D.Popescug, C.Buneah, A.Hobleh, E.Cavalloa, J.A.Gómezb
aInstitute for Agricultural and Earthmoving Machines (IMAMOTER), National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Torino, Italy
bInstitute for Sustainable Agriculture, CSIC, Cordoba, Spain
cInstitute for Land and Water Management Research, Federal Agency for Water Management, Petzenkirchen, Austria
dInstitute of Plant Protection and Institute of Integrative Nature Conservation Research, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
eInstitute of Zoology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Vienna, Austria
fUniversité Rennes 1, Station Biologique de Paimpont, UMR 6553 EcoBio, 35380, Paimpont, France
gSC JIDVEI SRL, Research Department, Jidvei, Romania
hUniversity of Agriculture Science and Veterinary Medicine, Cluj Napoca, Romania

Received 16 March 2020, Revised 3 July 2020, Accepted 7 July 2020, Available online 17 July 2020.

Department of Irrigation, Drainage and Landscape Engineering, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague, Thakurova 7, 16629 Prague, Czech Republic
*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 202012(6), 1787;
Received: 26 April 2020 / Revised: 11 June 2020 / Accepted: 20 June 2020 / Published: 23 June 2020
Accelerated soil erosion by water has many offsite impacts on the municipal infrastructure. This paper discusses how to easily detect potential risk points around municipalities by simple spatial analysis using GIS. In the Czech Republic, the WaTEM/SEDEM model is verified and used in large scale studies to assess sediment transports. Instead of computing actual sediment transports in river systems, WaTEM/SEDEM has been innovatively used in high spatial detail to define indices of sediment flux from small contributing areas. Such an approach has allowed for the modeling of sediment fluxes in contributing areas with above 127,484 risk points, covering the entire Czech Republic territory. Risk points are defined as outlets of contributing areas larger than 1 ha, wherein the surface runoff goes into residential areas or vulnerable bodies of water. Sediment flux indices were calibrated by conducting terrain surveys in 4 large watersheds and splitting the risk points into 5 groups defined by the intensity of sediment transport threat. The best sediment flux index resulted from the correlation between the modeled total sediment input in a 100 m buffer zone of the risk point and the field survey data (R2 from 0.57 to 0.91 for the calibration watersheds). Correlation analysis and principal component analysis (PCA) of the modeled indices and their relation to 11 lumped characteristics of the contributing areas were computed (average K-factor; average R-factor; average slope; area of arable land; area of forest; area of grassland; total watershed area; average planar curvature; average profile curvature; specific width; stream power index). The comparison showed that for risk definition the most important is a combination of morphometric characteristics (specific width and stream power index), followed by watershed area, proportion of grassland, soil erodibility, and rain erosivity (described by PC2).

FranciscoPedreroa, S.R.Grattanb, AlonBen-Galc, Gaetano AlessandroVivaldid

aDepartment of Irrigation, CEBAS-CSIC, Campus Universitario de Espinardo, 30100, Murcia, Spain
bDepartment of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, 95616, USA
cInstitute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, M.P. Negev, 85280, Israel
dDipartimento di Scienze Agro-Ambientali e Territoriali, Università Degli Studi Di BariAldo Moro, Via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy

Received 29 April 2020, Revised 9 June 2020, Accepted 11 June 2020, Available online 23 June 2020.


Olive trees are iconic to the Mediterranean landscape and in recent times, have expanded to other regions across the globe that share similar climatic conditions. Olive oil production benefits from irrigation, but with a changing climate and uncertainty in precipitation patterns, wastewaters will likely play a larger role supplementing irrigation water requirements. However, due to their relatively poor quality, wastewaters present challenges for sustained long-term use in olive production. Wastewaters include all effluents from municipalities, agricultural drainage, animal production facilities, agricultural processing and industrial processes. This review focuses on potential opportunities and limitations of sustaining olive oil production in the Mediterranean region using wastewater of various sources. The primary challenges for using such wastewaters include concerns related to salinity, sodicity, metals and trace elements, nutrients, organics, and pathogens. Organics and plant nutrients in the effluents are typically beneficial but depend on dosages.

Many studies have shown that saline wastewaters have been successfully used to irrigate olives in Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Tunisia. Still, olive varieties and rootstocks have different tolerances to salinity and could respond differently and oil quality may improve or be compromised. Salts and trace elements need to be monitored in plants and soil to make sure accumulation does not continue from year to year and that soil physical conditions are not affected. Some food industries generate effluents with suitable characteristics for irrigation but one must balance the benefits (e.g. addition of nutrients), detriments (e.g. addition of salts or other limiting chemicals) and costs when determining the feasibility and practicality of reuse. Long-term accumulation of trace elements and metals will likely limit the feasibility of using industrial-originating effluents without treatment processes that would remove the toxic constituents prior to reuse. Therefore, untreated wastewaters from the many industries have limited long-term potential for reuse at this time. Application of olive mill wastewater may be agronomically and economically beneficial, particularly as a local disposal solution, but there are concerns associated with high-concentrations of polyphenols that may be phytotoxic and toxic to soil microbial populations.

With regards to human safety, risk of contamination of table olives and olive oil is very low because irrigation methods deliver water below the canopy, fruits are not picked from the ground, processing itself eliminates pathogens and the irrigation season typically ends days or weeks before the harvest (depending on the climate condition). Finally, considering physiological, nutritional and intrinsic characteristics of this species, it is clear that olive trees are appropriate candidates for the reuse of recycled water as an irrigation source.

Agricultural Water Management 2020, 240, 106254;

Partner Publication (CSIC & UCO):

Tomás R. Tenreiro a,*, Margarita García-Vila b, José A. Gómez a, José A. Jimenez-Berni a, Elías Fereres a,b

a InstituteforSustainableAgriculture(CSIC),14004Cordoba,Spain

b DepartmentofAgronomy,UniversityofCordoba,14014Cordoba,Spain


• Scaling up point-based simulation modelling is a challenge due to the heterogeneity of water-related processes, and it is essential for many applications in precision agriculture.

• Seven crop simulation models and five hydrologic models were selected and their water modelling approaches were systematically reviewed for comparison. Regarding spatial modelling of water at crop field level, our analysis indicates that there is scope for conceptual improvements, but that combining both types of models may not be the best way forward.

• The most promising advances are related to the incorporation of surface inflow and subsurface lateral flows, by using differential equations or through novel water spatial partitioning relations to use in discrete-type approaches.

R.López-Urreaa, J.M.Sánchezb, A.Montoroa, F.Mañasa, D.S.Intriglioloc

a Instituto Técnico Agronómico Provincial (ITAP), Parque Empresarial Campollano, 2ª Avda. Nº 61, 02007, Albacete, Spain
b Dept. of Applied Physics, Regional Development Institute (IDR), Univ. of Castilla-La Mancha, Av. España, s/n, 02071 Albacete, Spain
c Departamento de Riego, Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC) Espinardo, Murcia, Spain

Received 18 December 2019, Revised 25 May 2020, Accepted 31 May 2020, Available online 16 June 2020.

SOIL Discuss., 2019;

Partner Publication (IAS – CSIC):

José A. Gómez1, Gema Guzmán2, Arsenio Toloza3, Christian Resch3, Roberto García-Ruíz4, and Lionel Mabit3

1Institute for Sustainable Agriculture-CSIC, Córdoba, Spain

2Applied Physics Dept., University of Córdoba, Spain

3Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory, FAO/IAEA Agriculture & Biotechnology Laboratory, IAEA Laboratories Seibersdorf, Austria

4Animal and Plant Biology and Ecology Dept., Ecology section, Center for advance studies in olive groves and olive oils, University of Jaén, Spain



This study compares the distribution of bulk soil organic carbon (SOC also reported as Corg), its fractions (unprotected, physical, chemical and biochemically protected), available P (Pavail), organic nitrogen (Norg) and stable isotopes (δ15N and δ13C) signatures at four soil depths (0–10, 10–20, 20–30, 30–40 cm) between a nearby forested reference area and an historical olive orchard (established in 1856) located in Southern Spain. In addition, these soil properties, as well as water stable aggregates (Wsagg) were contrasted at eroding and deposition areas within the olive orchard, previously determined using 137Cs. Results highlight a significant depletion of SOC stock in the olive orchard as compared to the forested area, approximately 120 vs. 55 t C ha−1 at the top 40 cm of soil respectively, being severe in the case of unprotected carbon fraction. Erosion and deposition within the old olive orchard created large differences in soil properties along a catena, resulting in higher Corg, Pavail and Norg contents and δ15N at the deposition area and therefore defining two areas with a different soil quality status (degraded vs. non-degraded). Differences in δ15N at such different catena locations suggest that this isotopic signature has the potential for being used as an indicator of soil degradation magnitude, although additional studies would be required to confirm this finding. These overall results indicate that proper understanding of Corg content and soil quality in olive orchards require the consideration of the spatial variability induced by erosion/deposition processes for a convenient appraisal at farm scale.