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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING WATER PRODUCTIVITY AND NEW WATER MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES TO SUSTAIN RURAL ECONOMIES

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: 2011 North Plains Research Field 12-200 Limited Irrigation Corn Production Study

Authors
item Marek, Thomas -
item Xue, Quigwu -
item Xu, Wenwei -
item Bean, Brent -
item Michels, Gerald -
item Howell, Terry
item Gowda, Prasanna
item Sweeten, John -
item Colaizzi, Paul
item Amosson, Steve -

Submitted to: Experiment Station Bulletins
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: February 20, 2012
Publication Date: February 20, 2012
Citation: Marek, T.H., Xue, Q., Xu, W., Bean, B., Michels, G.J., Howell, T.A., Gowda, P., Sweeten, J.M., Colaizzi, P.D., Amosson, S.H. 2012. 2011 North Plains research field 12-200 limited irrigation corn production study. Experiment Station Bulletins. p. 44.

Interpretive Summary: In the Northern Texas High Plains, the North Plains Water Conservation District started a water conservation project in 2010 on corn irrigation aimed at using just 12 inches of irrigation and producing 200 bu/ac of corn. This report is for the second year of the study conducted at the North Plains Research Field (NPRF) in Etter, Texas. Three commercial corn hybrids were used that all had a high yield potential. However, 2011 proved to be a much more demanding production year than 2010 as the state and local region had one of the driest years (in terms of rainfall) of record. Instead of the mean 10.5 inches of rainfall, only approximately 3.6 inches occurred during the growing period and those events were generally too late in the season to provide much benefit to the crop. In 2011 yield results, being of primary concern to the groundwater district and producers, indicated that all of the varieties yielded well short of the targeted yield goal given the lack of rainfall. The production results generally agreed with the extrapolated corn production function that was suggested to the groundwater conservation board members earlier in 2010, using an estimated lower total water production trend derived from several years of NPRF area based research and producer based data at near full total water use levels. Although there was uncertainty as to the curvature of the production function given the newer and advanced corn genetics over time, the level of production based on a research production function predicted a yield of 60 bu/ac, which was approximately that achieved as the average yield of the best performing of the three commercial varieties in 2011. Crop growth stages of the varieties were monitored and indicated that the three commercial varieties developed similarly, but did differ due to the intense stresses and were different from the non-stressed corn development in the generalized Texas High Plains ET network growth and development model. In 2011, with a pumped irrigation limit of up to 12 inches, the amount of total water use including precipitation and soil moisture was 14.9 inches. Using an average seasonal application efficiency of 90%, the corn crop total effective irrigation application amount was estimated to be 11.2 inches. Soil profile moisture utilization amounted to nearly 3 inches due to late season rainfall events replenishing part of the profile. The effective rainfall amounted to only 0.78 inches in 2011.

Technical Abstract: The North Plains Water Conservation District started a water conservation project in 2010 on corn irrigation aimed at using just 12 inches of irrigation and producing 200 bu/ac of corn. This report is for 2011, the second year of the study, conducted at the North Plains Research Field (NPRF) in Etter, Texas. The purpose of this project was to assess the viability and potential of producing 200 bushels of corn on a total of up to 12 inches of irrigation water. Application of the results are for consideration and possible inclusion as a strategy to reduce irrigation water use, and more effectively sustain groundwater resources within the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District (NPGCD) territory, while still maintaining an acceptable level of corn productivity for the producer. In 2011, as in 2010, three commercially available corn varieties were evaluated with this study and all were considered by seed suppliers as having high yield potential. Unlike 2010 however, 2011 proved to be a much more demanding production year as the state and local region witnessed one of the driest years (in terms of rainfall) on record. Instead of the mean 10.5 inches of rainfall occurring, only approximately 3.6 inches occurred during the growing period, and those events were generally too late in the season to provide any beneficial effectiveness toward crop growth or yield. In 2011 yield results, being of primary concern to the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District Board and producers, indicated that all of the varieties fell well short of the targeted yield goal given the lack of rainfall. As in 2010, much supporting performance characterization data was acquired with the NPRF study identifying differences among the three varieties. The production results generally agreed with the extrapolated corn production function that was suggested to the North Plains Groundwater Conservation Board members earlier in 2010 using an estimated lower total water production trend derived from several years of NPRF area based research and producer based data at near full total water use levels. Although there was uncertainty as to the curvature of the production function given the newer and advanced corn genetics over time, the level of production based on a research derived function predicted a yield of 60 bu/ac. The average yield of the best performing of the three commercial varieties was near that level in 2011. Varietal performance characteristics acquired and analyzed for the three selected varieties included biomass and harvest index data. Results indicated differences existed between the varieties tested and that one variety yielded better, inferring that the variety contained better heat stress genetics. Furthermore, the deficit water irrigation model showed excellent agreement with ground–truth data obtained by the project members. Given the hot and dry conditions in 2011, particularly in the earlier part of the season, the irrigation "plan" targeted and implemented was to irrigate in a manner to "get" the corn to the pollination stage before the 12 inch allocation was utilized. Soil moisture parameters were monitored under this study for generalized application in the modeling aspects associated with the NPRF irrigation and scheduling protocols. These data were also compared to the research irrigation scheduling model and again showed very good agreement. Crop growth stages of the varieties of corn was monitored, the indication was the three commercial varieties developed similarly. In 2011, with a pumped irrigation limit of up to 12 inches, the amount of total water use including precipitation and soil moisture amounted to 14.9 inches. Using an average seasonal application efficiency of 90%, the corn crop total effective irrigation application amount was computed to be 11.2 inches. Soil profile moisture utilization amounted to nearly 3 inches due to late season rainfall events replenishing part of the profile. The 2011 effective rainfall amounted to only 0.78 inches.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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