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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Macroscopic Approaches to Root Water Uptake As a Function of Water and Salinity Stress

Authors
item SKAGGS, TODD
item Van Genuchten, Martinus
item Shouse, Peter
item Poss, James

Submitted to: Agricultural Water Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 12, 2006
Publication Date: July 18, 2006
Repository URL: http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/53102000/pdf_pubs/P2137.pdf
Citation: Skaggs, T.H., Van Genuchten, M.T., Shouse, P.J., Poss, J.A. 2006. Macroscopic approaches to root water uptake as a function of water and salinity stress. Agricultural Water Management. 86:140-149

Interpretive Summary: Computer simulation models can be important tools for analyzing and managing site-specific irrigation, soil salinization, or crop production problems. A major challenge in developing useful models is accurately simulating the uptake of water by plant roots under different growing conditions, including conditions where plants face salinity and/or drought stresses. In this paper we review various approaches that have been used in the past to model root water uptake under stress conditions; demonstrate the use of a popular computer model and compare simulation results with experimental data; and discuss areas of research that may lead to improved simulation models.

Technical Abstract: Computer simulation models can be important tools for analyzing and managing site-specific irrigation, soil salinization, or crop production problems. For many of these problems, computer analyses require simulations of root water uptake as a function of water and salinity stress. We give an overview of macroscopic modeling approaches that are based on the Richards equation with a sink term specifying water uptake. Various parameterizations of the sink term as functions of water and salinity stress are reviewed. An example application demonstrates the simulation of drainage for a wide range of salinity and water stress conditions. The example shows that in practice it is very difficult to discriminate among the various functional forms proposed for the sink term. Future improvements to models may involve the incorporation of more dynamic root functions, such as the ability of roots to respond actively to growing conditions. As an example, we consider modeling compensated uptake, in which plants reacts to stress in one section of the root zone by increasing uptake in sections with more favorable conditions. Lastly, the challenge of estimating uptake reduction parameters from crop salt tolerance databases is discussed.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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