Article

Paddy and Water Environment

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 381-395

First online:

Effects of alternate wetting and drying irrigation on percolation and nitrogen leaching in paddy fields

  • Xuezhi TanAffiliated withState Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, Wuhan University Email author 
  • , Dongguo ShaoAffiliated withState Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, Wuhan University
  • , Huanhuan LiuAffiliated withState Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, Wuhan University
  • , Fengshun YangAffiliated withState Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, Wuhan University
  • , Chun XiaoAffiliated withState Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, Wuhan University
  • , Haidong YangAffiliated withState Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, Wuhan University

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Abstract

The widely adopted alternate wetting and drying (AWD) irrigation for rice production is increasingly needed to quantify the different water outflows and nitrogen leaching losses. We investigated the effects of AWD on percolation, water productivity, nitrogen leaching losses, and nitrogen productivity through in situ experiments. Results show that AWD reduced irrigation water without a significant impact on grain yields and increased the mean water productivity by 16.9 % compared with continuously flood irrigation (CFI). The mean nitrogen productivity of 135 kg ha−1 N level was 22.2 % higher than that of 180 kg ha−1 N level, although grain yields substantially increased because of nitrogen fertilization application. The percolation was also reduced by 15.3 % in 2007 and 8.3 % in 2008 compared to CFI. However, the cumulative percolation of the first 5 days after irrigation in AWD plots is significantly larger than that in CFI plots. The NH4 +–N and TN leaching losses of AWD and CFI had no significant variations while the NO3 –N leaching losses were increased caused by AWD. The total NH4 +–N, NO3 –N, and TN leaching losses of AWD in the first 3 days after irrigation were higher than that of contemporaneous CFI. The results indicate that the bypass or preferential flow and strengthened nitrification–denitrification nitrogen transformation processes because of alternate wetting and drying potentially decrease the water saving effectiveness and increase the NO3 –N loading to the groundwater.

Keywords

Alternate wetting and drying (AWD) Continuously flooding irrigation (CFI) Water losses Nitrogen leaching losses Water and nitrogen productivity