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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING SOIL AND WATER MANAGEMENT PRACTICES IN CROPPING AND INTEGRATED CROP-LIVESTOCK SYSTEMS

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Modeling irrigation management strategies to maximize cotton lint yield and water use efficiency

Authors
item BAUMHARDT, ROLAND
item Staggenborg, Scott - KANSAS STATE UNIV
item GOWDA, PRASANNA
item COLAIZZI, PAUL
item Howell, Terry

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 20, 2009
Publication Date: April 3, 2009
Citation: Baumhardt, R.L., Staggenborg, S.A., Gowda, P., Colaizzi, P.D., Howell, T.A. 2009. Modeling irrigation management strategies to maximize cotton lint yield and water use efficiency. Agronomy Journal. 101(3):460-468.

Interpretive Summary: Producers in the Southern High Plains face increasing pumping costs and declining well capacity. Irrigation strategies must maximize crop yield and minimize water use. Cotton is suited to deficit irrigation with well capacities of 2 to 6 gpm/acre per day. Our objectives were to (1) evaluate irrigation capacity and duration effects on cotton yield, and (2) compare application strategies for maximum yield and water use efficiency. The computer model GOSSYM was used with long-term (1959-2000) weather records at Bushland, Texas. We calculated yields of cotton grown in 30 in. rows with 3 plants per foot of row. The Pullman clay loam (fine, mixed, superactive, thermic Torrertic Paleustoll) started with 50 or 100% plant available water. We compared yields for 0, 2, 3, and 4 gpm/acre per day irrigation capacity and 4, 6, 8, and 10 weeks duration. Simulated lint yield decreased as irrigation decreased. However, lint yield for similar irrigation totals increased with higher well capacity. Simulated yields for cotton irrigated > 8-weeks did not differ among irrigation capacities. Cotton receiving 4 gpm/acre per day irrigation maintained yield with early, 6-weeks, irrigation termination. We conclude that spreading water to uniformly irrigate a field at 2 gpm/acre per day produces about 5% less lint than concentrating the same water resources to variably irrigate a smaller field at 3 or 4 gpm/acre per day with corresponding (2:1 and 1:1) dryland areas.

Technical Abstract: Increasing pumping costs and declining well capacities in the Southern High Plains compel producers to adapt irrigation strategies for maximum crop yield and water use efficiency (WUE), which is the ratio of yield to evapotranspiration (ET). Cotton [Gossypium hirsutum (L.)] is suited to deficit irrigation using wells with capacities ranging from 0.31 to 0.93 L s**-1 ha**-1 that are capable of ET replacement varying between limited, 2.7 mm d**-1, to complete 8.1 mm d**-1. Our objectives were to (1) evaluate irrigation capacity and duration effects on cotton yield, and (2) compare application strategies that maximize yield and WUE. The simulation model GOSSYM was used with long-term (1959-2000) weather records at Bushland, Texas, to calculate yields of cotton grown in 0.76 m rows with 13 plants m**-2 on a Pullman clay loam (fine, mixed, superactive, thermic Torrertic Paleustoll) with 50% or 100% initial plant available water. Comparisons included all combinations of irrigation capacity (dryland, 2.5, 3.75, and 5.0 mm d**-1) and duration (4, 6, 8, and 10 weeks beginning 37 days after emergence). Simulated lint yield decreased as irrigation decreased; however, lint yield for similar irrigation totals increased with increasing application capacity. Simulated yields for cotton irrigated > 8-weeks did not differ among irrigation capacities, but cotton irrigated at 5.0 mm d**-1 maintained yield with early, 6-weeks, irrigation termination. We conclude that spreading water to uniformly irrigate a field with 2.5 mm d**-1 produces ~5% less lint than concentrating the same water resources to variably irrigate a smaller field at 3.75 or 5.0 mm d-1 with corresponding (2:1 and 1:1) dryland areas.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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