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DSSAT modelling for best irrigation management practices assessment under Mediterranean conditions

Malik, Wafa, Dechmi, Farida
Agricultural water management 2019 v.216 pp. 27-43
Helianthus annuus, barley, corn, crop models, crops, decision support systems, farmers, irrigation scheduling, irrigation systems, soil types, sustainable development, wheat, Spain
Water is considered the most critical resource for sustainable development in Spain. Crop models can enhance water efficiency, which provides an economic advantage while also reducing environmental burdens. The aim of this study was to calibrate and evaluate the Decision Support System for Agro-technology Transfer (DSSAT) model for the major crops grown in the fields of the La Violada Irrigation District (VID), Spain; additionally, this research sought to evaluate the current practices and to determine the best irrigation management practices under different soil types in the VID for each crop. Crop and soil type data from 54 plots of farmers’ fields were used for model calibration and evaluation during the 2015 and 2016 irrigation seasons. Two irrigation scenarios were applied in eight soil types in the VID based on the current irrigation applied by farmers and the optimum irrigation adjusted to crop requirement. The DSSAT model demonstrated good performance among maize, wheat, barley and sunflower crops. The evaluation of the current irrigation system showed that farmers were not managing their irrigation systems properly. The adjusted irrigation management application showed a potential reduction in the seasonal irrigation depth for maize-SS (short-season maize) (27%), maize-LS (long season maize) (18%) and sunflower (16%). In a broader context, optimum irrigation practices can reduce the amount of leached N and deep percolation losses by 31% (4.48 T) and 34% (1.2 hm3), respectively, considering the cultivated crop area in each soil type in the entire VID.