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Using an integrated crop water stress index for irrigation scheduling of two corn hybrids in a semi-arid region

Susan A. O’Shaughnessy, Manuel A. Andrade, Steven R. Evett
Irrigation science 2017 v.35 no.5 pp. 451-467
center pivot irrigation, corn, cotton, drought tolerance, farmers, grain crops, hybrids, irrigation scheduling, semiarid zones, water stress, water use efficiency, Texas
Different thermal-based plant feedback systems have been used for irrigation management of cotton and grain crops in the Texas High Plains region, producing yields that are similar or better than irrigation scheduling using the neutron probe. However, there are limited studies using plant feedback systems to actively scheduling irrigations for corn. In this 2-year study, a drought tolerant and a conventional hybrid were managed under a variable rate center pivot irrigation system. The main treatments were manual and plant feedback irrigation scheduling based on weekly neutron probe readings and an integrated crop water stress index (CWSI), respectively. In each main treatment, three irrigation treatment levels were established. Crop responses were compared between irrigation methods and levels. Results demonstrated that overall grain and biomass yields and grain WUE for the plant feedback-control plots were similar to those from the manual-control plots for both years. These results indicate that a plant feedback system using a CWSI could be used to manage corn in a semi-arid region and over a large-sized field. The plant feedback system could provide convenience and time savings to farmers who manage multiple center pivot fields.