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Corn and Sorghum ET, E, Yield, and CWP as Affected by Irrigation Application Method: SDI versus Mid-Elevation Spray Irrigation

Steven R. Evett, Gary W. Marek, Paul D. Colaizzi, David K. Brauer, Susan A. O’Shaughnessy
Transactions of the ASABE v.62 no.5 pp. 1377-1393
Sorghum bicolor, Zea mays, aquifers, center pivot irrigation, cooling, corn, cotton, evaporation, evaporative demand, irrigated farming, irrigation water, lysimeters, microirrigation, nozzles, plant height, rooting, soil temperature, soil water, soil water balance, water conservation, water use efficiency, weather, High Plains (United States), Texas
Greater than 80% of the irrigated area in the Southern High Plains is served by center-pivot irrigation, but the area served by subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) is increasing due to several factors including declining well yields and improved yields and crop water productivity (CWP), particularly for cotton. Not as well established is the degree to which the reduced soil water evaporation (E) in SDI systems affects the soil water balance, water available to the crop, and overall water savings. Grain corn (L.) and sorghum (L. Moench) were grown on four large weighing lysimeters at Bushland, Texas, in 2013 (corn), 2014 and 2015 (sorghum), and 2016 (corn). Evapotranspiration (ET) was measured using the lysimeters and using a neutron probe in the surrounding fields. Two of the lysimeters and surrounding fields were irrigated with SDI, and the other two were irrigated with mid-elevation spray application (MESA). The lysimeter-measured evaporative losses were 149 to 151 mm greater from sprinkler-irrigated corn fields than from SDI fields. When growing sorghum, the lysimeter-measured evaporative losses were 44 to 71 mm greater from sprinkler-irrigated fields than from SDI fields. The differences were affected by plant height and became smaller when plant height reached the height of the spray nozzles, indicating that the use of LEPA or LESA nozzles could decrease the evaporative losses from sprinkler-irrigated fields in this region with its high evaporative demand. Annual weather patterns also influenced the differences in evaporative loss, with increased differences in dry years. SDI reduced overall corn water use by 13% to 15%, as determined by neutron probe, while either not significantly affecting yield (2016) or increasing yield by up to 19% (2013) and increasing CWP by 37% (2013) to 13% (2016) as compared with MESA full irrigation. However, sorghum yield decreased by 15% and CWP decreased by 14% in 2014 when using SDI compared with MESA full irrigation due to an overly wet soil profile in the SDI fields and deep percolation that likely caused nutrient losses. In 2015, there were no significant sorghum yield differences between irrigation methods. Sorghum CWP was significantly greater (by 14%) in one SDI field in 2015 compared with MESA fully irrigated sorghum. Overall, sorghum CWP increased by 8% for SDI compared with MESA full irrigation in 2015. These results indicate that SDI will be successful for corn production in the Texas High Plains, but SDI is unlikely to benefit sorghum production. Keywords: Corn, Crop water productivity, Evaporative loss, Evapotranspiration, Irrigation application method, Sorghum, Water use efficiency, Weighing lysimeter.
Evapotranspiration, Irrigation, Dew/frost - Water Balance Data for The Bushland, Texas Maize for Grain Datasets
Weighing Lysimeter Data for The Bushland, Texas Maize for Grain Datasets
Growth and Yield Data for the Bushland, Texas Maize for Grain Datasets
Standard Weather Data for the Bushland, Texas, Large Weighing Lysimeter Experiments
Agronomic Calendars for the Bushland, Texas Maize for Grain Datasets
The Bushland, Texas Maize for Grain Datasets