Managing water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems


Authors: Liebhard, Gunther C.; Klik, Andreas; Stumpp, Christine; Santos, Angela G. Morales; Eitzinger, Josef; Nolz, Reinhard


Knowledge of crop water requirements and the effects of management practices on the amounts of water used for crop transpiration and that lost through soil evaporation is essential for efficient agricultural water management. Therefore, this study investigated the temporal evolution of weekly evaporation and transpiration rates under varying soil water conditions in a conventionally managed soybean field by partitioning evapotranspiration based on a water and δ18O-stable isotope mass balance. The estimated rates were considered in combination with vertical soil water distribution, atmospheric demand (based on crop evapotranspiration), actual evapotranspiration, and the plant development stage. This allowed for the weekly rates to be compared to the current conditions resulting from dry periods, rain or irrigation events, and the extent of the canopy. The range of weekly transpiration/evapotranspiration, from blossom to maturation, was between 0.60 (±0.11) and 0.82 (±0.10). Within this range, transpiration/evapotranspiration shifted depending on the vertical soil water distribution and meteorological conditions. During dry soil surface periods, evaporation dropped to almost zero, whereas a wet surface layer substantially increased evaporation/evapotranspiration, even under a closed canopy. Under given conditions, the application of a few intense irrigations before the drying of the soil surface is recommended.

Read the full paper here.