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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Assessment of Groundwater Use by Wheat (Triticum Acestivum L.) in the Luancheng Xian Region and Potential Implications for Water Conservation in the Northwestern North China Plain

Authors
item Chunsheng, Hu - CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCI
item Delgado, Jorge
item Xiying, Zhang - CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCI
item Ma, Liwang

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 21, 2004
Publication Date: March 15, 2005
Citation: Chunsheng, H., Delgado, J.A., Xiying, Z., Ma, L. 2005. Assessment of groundwater use by wheat (triticum acestivum l.) in the luancheng xian region and potential implications for water conservation in the northwestern north china plain. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 60:80-88.

Interpretive Summary: Agricultural sustainability in China, especially in the North China Plain (NCP), is highly dependent on water resource availability. Over fifty percent of the area in the northwestern region of the NCP is irrigated using groundwater. In Luancheng County, precipitation is insufficient to meet the water requirements of the dominant winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and summer corn (Zea mays L.) rotation. Land management in Luancheng County has changed dramatically since the 1970's when a more intensive practice of two crops per year (wheat-corn) started. We conducted the first irrigation management assessment of groundwater resources for the Luancheng County. We found that since measurements of well groundwater levels in Luancheng County started in the early 1970's, the groundwater level has been dropping at a rate of 0.88 m y-1 (P < 0.001). Additionally, we found a significant decreasing trend in annual precipitation for the Luancheng County that explained about 69% of the groundwater depletion rate (P < 0.001). We define the WUE as amount of grain produced per unit of water use. A more efficient management system that increases WUE, could potentially sustain the currently cropped areas. There is potential to use water budget models such as the Penman evapotranspiration method and stage of growth to assess water needs and irrigation scheduling. Using small plots studies, we found that irrigation scheduling can significantly increase WUE and cut water use by almost fifty percent when we target the application of 60 mm irrigation events at the jointing and heading stages of growth. It is imperative that these practices now be tested under commercial local applications and that we continue developing better irrigation management practices that conserve groundwater resources in order to maintain the current agricultural sustainability that is needed to feed the increasing population.

Technical Abstract: Agricultural sustainability in China, especially in the North China Plain (NCP), is highly dependent on water resource availability. Over fifty percent of the area in the northwestern region of the NCP is irrigated using groundwater. In Luancheng County, precipitation is insufficient to meet the water requirements of the dominant winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and summer corn (Zea mays L.) rotation. Land management in Luancheng County has changed dramatically since the 1970's when a more intensive practice of two crops per year (wheat-corn) started. We conducted the first irrigation management assessment of groundwater resources for the Luancheng County. We found that since measurements of well groundwater levels in Luancheng County started in the early 1970's, the groundwater level has been dropping at a rate of 0.88 m y-1 (P < 0.001). We define the WUE as amount of grain produced per unit of water use. A more efficient management system that increases WUE, could potentially sustain the currently cropped areas. We conducted long term studies and found that there is potential to use water budget models such as the Penman evapotranspiration method and stage of growth to assess water needs and irrigation scheduling. Using small plots studies, we found that irrigation scheduling can significantly increase WUE and cut water use by almost fifty percent when we target the application of 60 mm irrigation events at the jointing and heading stages of growth. This management alternative looks promising and showed that we could cut back irrigation use by fifty percent for winter wheat (120 mm) without reducing yields (P < 0.05) when compared to traditional farmer practices that use four irrigation events (240 mm).

Last Modified: 9/10/2014