Irrigation Science

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 147–159 | Cite as

Water use and yield responses of cotton to alternate partial root-zone drip irrigation in the arid area of north-west China

  • Taisheng Du
  • Shaozhong KangEmail author
  • Jianhua ZhangEmail author
  • Fusheng Li
Original Paper


A field experiment was carried out over 2 years to investigate the effect of partial root-zone irrigation applied using drip irrigation on the water use and yield of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) in oasis fields of arid north-west China. Two irrigation treatments, i.e., conventional drip irrigation (CDI, both sides of plant row watered) or alternate drip irrigation (ADI, both sides of plant row alternatively watered) were applied under plastic mulch. Three irrigation levels (i.e., 15, 22.5, 30 mm during 2004 and 12, 18, 24 mm during 2005) were applied at each irrigation. Monitoring of soil water contents in the ADI treatment indicated a change in root-zone uptake in response to the irrigation method, although there existed some lateral soil water movement from the wetted side to the dry side after each watering. Stomatal conductance in ADI was lower than that of CDI when compared at the same irrigation level. Reduced stomatal conductance and water loss resulted in higher water use efficiency (WUE) in the ADI treatment. About 31-33% less total irrigation water was applied using the ADI method when compared to that of the CDI treatment with a similar seed cotton yield. ADI also yielded 11% more pre-frost seed cotton than CDI in 2005, indicating a better lint quality and higher price. These results suggest that ADI should be a useful water-saving irrigation method in arid oasis fields where cotton production is heavily dependent on irrigation and water resources are scarce.


Soil Water Content Drip Irrigation Drip Line Irrigation Amount Plastic Mulch 
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We are grateful to the research grants from Chinese National Natural Science Fund (50339030), Chinese National 863 High Technology Research Plan Project (2006AA100203, 2006AA100210) and Hong Kong Research Grants Council (HKBU 2165/05M). We wish to thank the staff of Wuwei Institute of Water Conservancy and Xuebai Experiment Station of Agricultural Technology Extension Center of Minqin for their assistance for fieldwork. We also want to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive and critical comments which helped greatly for the revised version.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Agricultural Water Research in ChinaChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of BiologyHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongChina
  3. 3.Agricultural CollegeGuangxi UniversityNanningChina

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