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Temporal variability of water footprint for cereal production and its controls in Saskatchewan, Canada

Zhao, Ying, Ding, Dianyuan, Si, Bingcheng, Zhang, Zhenhua, Hu, Wei, Schoenau, Jeff
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.660 pp. 1306-1316
barley, farms, grain crops, grain yield, production technology, spring wheat, temporal variation, water footprint, Saskatchewan
The water footprint (WF) of crop production is a user-friendly means to analyze the consumption of water resource in agricultural production systems. This study assessed the inter-annual variability of grain yield, protein yield, and their corresponding WFs and determined the major factors influencing the WFs in Saskatchewan of Canada. Both spring wheat and barley showed a significant trend of increasing grain and protein yield from 1965 to 2014, at 194.1 and 179.2kgha−1decade−1 for grain yield (P<0.01) and 18.6 and 17.3kgha−1decade−1 for protein yield, respectively. Coincident with this was that both the grain yield-based and protein yield-based WFs of spring wheat and barley in Saskatchewan showed a downward trend. The grain yield-based WFs ranged from 1.08 to 1.80m3kg−1 for spring wheat, and from 0.90 to 1.38m3kg−1 for barley, whereas the protein yield-based WFs ranged from 7.93 to 10.44m3kg−1 for spring wheat and from 8.14 to 16.47m3kg−1 for barley. The grain yield-based WFs were affected by local precipitation followed by expenses on inputs from farms and the scientific and technological contributions. Under the same protein yield, the protein yield-based WFs tended to be lower in spring wheat than barley. The grain yield-based WFs of cereal crops have large potential for improvement in the future.