Submitted to: Irrigation Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 15, 2010
Publication Date: March 11, 2010
Citation: Hunsaker, D.J., French, A.N., Clarke, T.R., El-Shikha, D.M. 2010. Water use, crop coefficients, and irrigation management criteria for camelina production in arid regions. Irrigation Science. 29(1):27-43. Interpretive Summary: Camelina sativa (camelina) is an oilseed crop that is currently being produced as a biofuel in northern U.S. regions. Camelina’s reputed drought tolerance makes it an attractive potential crop for growers in the arid-west, where water availability for irrigation is limited. Lack of information on irrigation management for camelina is a factor hindering its cultivation in the arid-west. This research quantified the crop water needs and seed yields of camelina grown with different irrigation levels in Arizona. Results show that the water use requirement of camelina may be much lower than traditional crops produced in the area, such as wheat. They also indicated that camelina seed yields did not increase with frequency or amount of irrigation. Thus, camelina appears to be quite adaptable to seasonal fluctuations in irrigation water availability. General irrigation scheduling tools and guidelines for camelina were developed to help growers with irrigation management decisions. This research suggests that camelina with its associated water-savings could create opportunities for growers in the arid-west who have limited cropping alternatives. These results will be of interest to growers, irrigation consultants, government agencies, and industry.
Technical Abstract: Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz is an oilseed crop touted as being suitable for production in the arid southwestern USA. However, because any significant development of the crop has been limited to cooler, rain-fed climate-areas, information and guidance for managing irrigated-camelina are lacking. This study measured the crop water use of a November-through-April camelina crop in Arizona using frequent measurements of soil water contents. The crop was grown under surface irrigation using five treatment levels of soil water depletion. The seed yields of treatments averaged 1142 kg ha-1 (8.0% seed moisture) and were generally comparable with camelina yields reported in other parts of the USA. Varying total irrigation water amounts to treatments (295-330 mm) did not significantly affect yield, whereas total crop evapotranspiration (ETc) was increased for the most frequently irrigated treatment. However, total ETc for the camelina treatments (332-371 mm) was markedly less than that typically needed by grain and vegetable crops (600-655 mm), which are commonly grown during the same timeframe in Arizona. The camelina water use data were used to develop crop coefficients based on days past planting, growing degree days, and canopy spectral reflectance. The crop coefficient curves, along with information presented on camelina soil water depletion and root zone water extraction characteristics will provide camelina growers in arid regions with practical tools for managing irrigations.