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Evaluation of Infrared Canopy Temperature Data in Relation to Soil Water-Based Irrigation Scheduling in a Humid Subtropical Climate

Bruno P. Lena, Brenda V. Ortiz, Andres F. Jiménez-Lópe, Álvaro Sanz-Sáez, Susan A. O’Shaughnessy, Mary K. Durstock, Greg Pate
Transactions of the ASABE v.63 no.5 pp. 1217-1231
Zea mays, canopy, corn, grain yield, humid subtropical climates, infrared radiation, irrigation rates, irrigation scheduling, leaves, plant available water, rain, relative humidity, sensors (equipment), temperature, water stress, water uptake, Alabama
HighlightsCorn response to irrigation was influenced by the precipitation distribution in 2018 and 2019, and that impacted the response of CWSI as an irrigation scheduling signaling method.CWSI was sensitive to changes in soil water storage, increasing due to crop evapotranspiration and decreasing after a precipitation or irrigation event.In 2018, both seasonal CWSI and yield were not different among the irrigation treatments, while in 2019, seasonal CWSI and yield were all statistically different among the treatments evaluated.Post analysis of canopy and air temperature indicated that the temperature-time threshold (TTT) method might not appropriately signal crop water stress in a humid environment.Abstract. Irrigation scheduling based on the crop water stress index (CWSI) and temperature-time threshold (TTT) methods is promising for semi-arid and arid climates. The objective of this study was to investigate if CWSI and TTT methods could be used as irrigation signaling tools for a humid environment in the southeastern U.S. Corn canopy temperature data were collected in Alabama in 2018 and 2019 using infrared leaf temperature sensors on a fully irrigated treatment and on two limited irrigation treatments. A set of three soil water sensors installed at 0.15, 0.3, and 0.6 m soil depth were used to prescribe irrigation time and amount. CWSI was sensitive to precipitation, irrigation, and plant water uptake. No statistical differences in CWSI or yield among the three irrigation levels were found in 2018 when precipitation was well distributed during the season. In contrast, during 2019 both CWSI and yield differed significantly among the three irrigation treatments. Precipitation events in 2019 were sparse compared to 2018; therefore, irrigation promoted greater differences in water availability between treatments. Inconsistencies observed in potential irrigation signaling using the TTT method with or without the inclusion of a limiting relative humidity algorithm indicate that the TTT method may not be a reliable irrigation signaling tool for humid environments. Keywords: Corn yield, Crop water stress index, Irrigation scheduling, Limiting relative humidity, Soil water depletion, Temperature-time threshold.