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A field-modeling study for assessing temporal variations of soil-water-crop interactions under water-saving irrigation strategies

  • Author(s): Karandish, Fatemeh
  • Simunek, Jiri
  • et al.

Simulation models are useful tools that may help to improve our understanding of soil-water-plant interactions under innovative water-saving irrigation strategies. In this study, the HYDRUS-2D model was applied to evaluate the influence of deficit irrigation (DI) and partial root-zone drying (PRD) on maize water extractions during two cropping cycles of 2010 and 2011. The model was calibrated and validated using measured soil water content data (expressed as equivalent water depths). Reliable estimates of soil water content were provided by HYDRUS-2D, with root mean square error and mean bias error values of 2.3–5.11 and 1.63–4.93mm, respectively. Root water uptake and maize grain yields were reduced by 13.2–28.8% and 13.6–52.8%, respectively, under different water-saving irrigation treatments compared to full irrigation. However, different root and water repartitions in the PRD treatment with a 25% reduction in the irrigation depth (PRD75) improved soil water utilization and consequently, crop growth. Increased root water uptake (2.2–4.4 times higher than in other treatments) from the 60–100cm soil depth in the PRD75 treatment maintained a favorable daily evapotranspiration rate, resulting in no significant reduction in maize grain yield compared to full irrigation. Consequently, a 15.7–85% increase in water use efficiency for maize cultivation under PRD75 ensured 25% water savings without threatening food security in the study area. It can be concluded that HYDRUS-2D can be successfully used to optimize water management under local water-stress conditions.

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