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Crop Water Productivity of Sugarbeet as Affected by Tillage

Jalal D. Jabro, William B. Stevens, William M. Iverson, Robert G. Evans, Brett L. Allen
Agronomy journal 2014 v.106 no.6 pp. 2280-2286
irrigation water, sugar beet, conventional tillage, equations, clay loam soils, strip tillage, sucrose, sprinkler irrigation, spring, plant-water relations, crop yield, growing season, irrigated farming, wind damage, roots, Beta vulgaris, Montana
One of today’s greatest challenges of irrigated agriculture is to produce more food and fiber with less water, which can be accomplished by maximizing crop water productivity (CWP). A study was conducted to evaluate and compare the effect of conventional tillage (CT) and strip tillage (ST) on crop water use (CWU) and CWP of sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L.) on clay loam soil in the northern Great Plains (NGP). Seasonal CWU and CWP for sugarbeet root and sucrose yields were determined for the 2006, 2007, and 2008 growing seasons according to the water balance and CWP equations under CT and ST practices. No significant differences due to tillage were found for CWU of sugarbeet. In 2006, CWP for root yield was significantly greater in ST relative to CT due to wind damage early in the spring which reduced sugarbeet plant population in the CT. The mean CWP for root yield across three growing seasons was10% greater for ST than for CT due to the protected soil–plant environment under the ST. The ST greatly reduces wind erosion and the related plant damage. The ST system used 0.0093 m³ and 0.061 m³ of irrigation water less than CT system to produce 1 kg of sugarbeet root and 1 kg of sucrose yield, respectively, throughout the growing season. We concluded that ST can be used to produce sugarbeet root yield and CWP comparable to CT or even in some instances greater than CT in areas that are prone to wind damage to sugarbeet seedlings.