Quantification of plant water uptake by water stable isotopes in rice paddy systems

Abstract

Aim

Understanding the source water utilization of rice-based cropping systems helps develop improving water management strategies for paddy management. We investigated the effects of altered flooding regimes and crop diversification on plant root water uptake on a fully-replicated field trial at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.

Methods

All potential water pools, e.g., plant and soil extracted water, were analyzed for their water stable isotopic compositions (δ2H and δ18O). We determined the relative contributions from different water sources to root water uptake (RWU) of rice plants by applying a multi-source mixing model (Stable Isotopes Analysis in R, SIAR). The sensitivity of the model to the incorporation of prior information based on in-situ measurements of soil water content and root length density was investigated as well.

Results

The modeling results showed that wet rice plants mainly extracted surface ponded water (~56–72%) during both wet and dry seasons followed by soil surface (0–0.02 m) water (~17–19%) during growth. Dry rice extracted ~40–50% of its water from shallow soil (0–0.5 m) and ~35% from 0.1 to 0.3 m depth when the plants were matured.

Conclusions

The mixing model results were better constrained with the additional information on soil water content and root length density. The relative contributions of the soil water sources to RWU decreased with depth and reflected the exponential shape of the root density profile. The main water source for wet rice was surface ponded water (independent of the season), whereas shallow soil water was the main source for dry rice.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the DFG-Research Unit FOR1701 for generously funding the sub-project 07 (Monitoring and modeling of water and water-related nutrient fluxes in rice-based cropping systems, BR2238/9-2) under the ICON project phase II (Introducing Non-Flooded Crops in Rice-Dominated Landscapes: Impact on Carbon, Nitrogen and Water Cycles). We express our gratitude to the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines and Reiner Wassmann for providing research space and support. We highly acknowledge the fruitful discussions with Marcel Gaj, Mathias Beyer, Paul Koeniger and the support from Chanaka Warnakulasooriya, Alejandro Chamarro and, Carla Camargus. We would also like to thank the Institute of Soil Sciences and Soil Conservation and the Department of Animal Ecology, both at JLU Giessen, for their laboratory support.

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Correspondence to Amani Mahindawansha.

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Responsible Editor: W Richard Whalley.

Appendix

Appendix

Fig. 7
figure7

Depth profiles of δ2H (1st row; a, c, e; in black) and δ18O (2nd row; b, d, f; in red) with corresponding plant stem water, irrigation water (IW), ground water (GW), and surface ponded water (SW) isotopic compositions with respective standard deviations. Light-colored profiles indicate the boundaries of the 95% confidence interval (±1SD). GS1 (1st column; a, b), GS2 (2nd column; c, d), and GS3 (3rd column; e, f) refer to vegetative, reproductive, and ripening stages from wet rice during the wet season 2015

Fig. 8
figure8

Depth profiles of δ2H (1st row; a, c, e; in black) and δ18O (2nd row; b, d, f; in red) with corresponding plant stem water, irrigation water (IW), ground water (GW), and surface ponded water (SW) isotopic compositions with respective standard deviations. Light-colored profiles indicate the boundaries of the 95% confidence interval (±1SD). GS1 (1st column; a, b), GS2 (2nd column; c, d), and GS3 (3rd column; e, f) refer to vegetative, reproductive, and ripening stages from wet rice during the dry season 2016

Fig. 9
figure9

Depth profiles of δ2H (1st row; a, c, e; in black) and δ18O (2nd row; b, d, f; in red) with corresponding plant stem water, irrigation water (IW), ground water (GW), and surface ponded water (SW) isotopic compositions with respective standard deviations. Light-colored profiles indicate the boundaries of the 95% confidence interval (±1SD). GS1 (1st column; a, b), GS2 (2nd column; c, d), and GS3 (3rd column; e, f) refer to vegetative, reproductive, and ripening stages from dry rice during the dry season 2016

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Mahindawansha, A., Orlowski, N., Kraft, P. et al. Quantification of plant water uptake by water stable isotopes in rice paddy systems. Plant Soil 429, 281–302 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-018-3693-7

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Keywords

  • Water stable isotope
  • Rice
  • Root water uptake
  • Multi-source mixing model
  • Prior information
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Plant water enrichment
  • Water extraction