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Drip irrigation enhances water use efficiency without losses in cucumber yield and economic benefits in greenhouses in North China

Abstract

The cultivation mode of planting offseason crops, such as cucumber, with drip irrigation has been widely used in greenhouses in North China to achieve high yields, obtain large economic benefits, and improve water use efficiency. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of drip irrigation on the irrigation water amount, irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE), and cucumber yield and the corresponding economic benefits. These objectives were achieved using data from a seven-season experiment in a commercial greenhouse with cucumber plants in North China. Local furrow irrigation was used as the control. The results showed that the cucumber yields and income with drip irrigation were 4.3% and 3.1% higher than those under furrow irrigation, respectively. However, the seasonal total irrigation depth for drip irrigation was approximately 50% lower than that for furrow irrigation. The IWUE averaged 0.41 in furrow irrigation but increased to 0.79 in drip irrigation. The irrigation water productivity and the economic irrigation water productivity for drip irrigation were approximately 100% higher than those for furrow irrigation. The mean economic irrigation water productivity was 19.8 US$ m−3 for drip irrigation, which is 7 times higher than the 2019 value of 2.7 US$ m−3 in the agricultural sector in China, indicating potential high economic benefits. In conclusion, drip irrigation is recommended in greenhouses to reduce irrigation water by approximately 50% and increase cucumber yield and economic benefits by approximately 3–4% compared to traditional furrow irrigation in North China.

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Acknowledgements

The authors greatly appreciate the field support of Chaoyang Sun, the owner of the sunken solar greenhouse, and Li Yang for her help in preparing figures, data and word corrections in the revision process.

Funding

This work was financially supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (NO. 91479004, 51939005) and the 111 Project (B18006).

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Conceptualization: HL; methodology: HL and BY; formal analysis: HL, XT and CY; investigation and data curation: XH, and CY; writing—original draft preparation: HL; writing—review and editing: HL and BY. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Haijun Liu.

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Liu, H., Yuan, B., Hu, X. et al. Drip irrigation enhances water use efficiency without losses in cucumber yield and economic benefits in greenhouses in North China. Irrig Sci (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00271-021-00756-w

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