The effect of partial wetting of the root zone on yield and water use efficiency in a drip-and sprinkler-irrigated mature grapefruit grove
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The effect of partial wetting of the root zone on yield and water use efficiency in a drip- and sprinkler-irrigated mature grapefruit grove was tested in a long-term experiment from 1976 to 1979. Three different percentages of the surface soil areas (∼ 30%, 40% and 70%) were wetted by the use of single and double drip laterals and sprinklers, respectively. Irrigation frequencies were 3 and 7 days for the drip treatments and 14 and 21 days for the sprinkler-irrigated plots.
Two amounts of water, 80% and 100% of the total seasonal water application as previously determined from the soil moisture depletion data (ca. 630 and 800 mm), were applied at the different irrigation intervals for the drip- and sprinkler-irrigated treatments during the irrigation season (April–November). Soil moisture and salinity patterns were determined by the neutron scattering method and by gravimetric sampling. The partition of water extraction from the wet and dry zones in the drip-irrigated treatments was determined. About 86% of the total amount of water depletion was from the wet zone and 14% from the dry zone. Percolation losses in the irrigated treatments receiving 80% of the total seasonal water application decreased as compared with the 100% irrigated plots. Salts accumulated during the irrigation season were leached out by the winter rainfall.
The effect of the reduction of irrigation application amount, first introduced in 1976, on the grapefruit yield was cumulative. The average yield (for the three years 1977, 1978, 1979) in the 80%, drip-irrigated plots at 3-day intervals, was 89 t/ha, compared with 98 t/ha in the 100% irrigated plots. The average yields obtained in the sprinkler and trickle irrigation treatments receiving 100% of the water application was 84 t/ha and 100 t/ha, respectively. Yield reductions in the plots receiving reduced water application of 80% were 11% for the drip treatments and 13% for the sprinkler treatment; the extent of the yield reduction varied according to the time interval between irrigations. The fruit quality was up to the required standards in all treatments. Water use efficiency was greater in the drip-irrigated plots than in the sprinkled ones, and also greater in the plots given the reduced water applications (80% of the maximum seasonal amount of the irrigation water applied), as compared with plots receiving the full amount of irrigation.
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