Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/4/2007
Publication Date: 5/1/2007
Citation: Baker, J.T., Wanjura, D.F., Upchurch, D.R. 2007. Using leaf gas exchange to quantify drought in cotton irrigated based on canopy temperature measurements. Agronomy Journal. 99:637-644. Interpretive Summary: Improvements in the efficiency of the use of applied irrigation water are needed particularly in semiarid regions where sources of irrigation water are limited. Lack of water causes crop plants to become warmer than crop plants that are well supplied with water. We used measurements of plant temperature to decide when a cotton crop needed to be irrigated. We also measured the severity of water stress by measuring water loss from individual leaves and by measuring how fast the cotton leaves were taking carbon dioxide out of the air in a process called photosynthesis. We concluded that these measurements on cotton leaves were very good indicators of the degree of water stress. These findings will help farmers more efficiently utilize limited water supplies for irrigating their crops.
Technical Abstract: Improvements in the efficiency of the use of applied irrigation water are needed particularly in semiarid regions where sources of irrigation water are limited. Canopy temperature (Tc) provides an easy to acquire indicator of crop drought stress that has been used in irrigation scheduling systems. In order to quantify the degree of drought stress and schedule irrigations, the stress-time index method of irrigation scheduling accumulates the amount of time during a day that Tc is above a specified temperature threshold. Our goal was to quantify the degree of drought stress in terms of leaf-level gas exchange parameters for a cotton crop that was subsurface drip irrigated according to the stress-time index method of irrigation scheduling. In this experiment, diurnal measurements of leaf gas exchange were grouped into “Wet” or “Dry” data sets, respectively, depending on whether or not the crop had been irrigated the previous day. At leaf temperatures (TL) near 28ºC, leaf net assimilation (A) and stomatal conductance (g) were reduced by 2 fold and 3 to 5 fold, respectively, in the Dry compared with the Wet data sets. Water use efficiency, calculated as the instantaneous ratio of CO2 uptake to transpirational water loss, was higher in the Dry compared with the Wet data set. The ratio of leaf internal to external CO2 concentration (Ci/Ca) decreased with increasing TL for the Wet data set while the reverse trend was found for the Dry data set. These opposite trends in Ci/Ca may point to different stomatal vs. non-stomatal mechanisms being responsible for the decline in A and g as both drought stress and TL increased. Differences between Wet and Dry data sets in A and g trends across common ranges of TL indicate that Tc alone did not provide a unique and unambiguous measure of the level of drought stress as quantified by leaf-level gas exchange measurements.