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Model-based evaluation of low-cost drip-irrigation systems and management strategies using saline water

Karlberg, Louise, Jansson, Per-Erik, Gustafsson, David
Irrigation science 2007 v.25 no.4 pp. 387-399
autumn, data collection, ecosystems, evaporation, freshwater, irrigation water, management systems, models, plastic film mulches, saline water, soil water content, spring, surface drainage, tomatoes, transpiration
A drip-irrigation module was developed and included in an ecosystem model and tested on two independent datasets, spring and autumn, on field-grown tomato. Simulated soil evaporation correlated well with measurements for spring (2.62 mm d-¹ compared to 2.60 mm d-¹). Changes in soil water content were less well portrayed by the model (spring r ² = 0.27; autumn r ² = 0.45). More independent data is needed for further model testing in combination with developments of the spatial representation of below-ground variables. In a fresh-water drip-irrigated system, about 30% of the incoming water was transpired, 40% was lost as non-productive evaporative flows, and the remainder left the system as surface runoff or drainage. Simulations showed that saline water irrigation (6 dS m-¹) caused reduced transpiration, which led to higher drainage and soil evaporation, compared with fresh water. Covering the soil with plastic mulch resulted in an increase in yield and transpiration. Finally, two different drip-irrigation discharge rates (0.2 and 2.5 l h-¹) were compared; however the simulations indicated that the discharge rate did not have any impact on the partitioning of the incoming water to the system. The model proved to be a useful tool for evaluating the importance of specific management options.