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ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Grazinglands Research Laboratory » Forage and Livestock Production Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #342524

Research Project: Integrated Forage Systems for Food and Energy Production in the Southern Great Plains

Location: Forage and Livestock Production Research

Title: Optimizing preplant irrigation for maize under limited water in the high plains

Author
item Kisekka, Isaya - Kansas State University
item Schlegel, Alan - Kansas State University
item Ma, Liwang
item Gowda, Prasanna
item Vara Prasad, P.v.v. - Kansas State University

Submitted to: Agricultural Water Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/18/2017
Publication Date: 4/1/2017
Citation: Kisekka, I., Schlegel, A., Ma, L., Gowda, P., Vara Prasad, P. 2017. Optimizing preplant irrigation for maize under limited water in the high plains. Agricultural Water Management. 187:154-163.

Interpretive Summary: A simulation study was conducted to assess the effect of preplant irrigation amounts and irrigation capacities on maize production in western Kansas. The calibrated and validated crop growth model embedded in a water quality model adequately predicted yield, evapotranspiration (ET), and soil water content in the root zone. The calibrated and validated model was applied to assess effect of five preplant irrigation amounts and three irrigation capacities on maize yield. Water losses due to soil water evaporation prior to planting increased with preplant irrigation amount at all irrigation capacities. Under very limited irrigation capacity (=2.5 mm/day), we recommend applying 75–100 mm of preplant irrigation in late spring (April). No preplant irrigation is recommended at high irrigation capacity to minimize soil water evaporation losses. Overall, preplant irrigation is benefcial under very limited irrigation capacity but is not necessary under sufficient irrigation capacity in most years. The decision to apply preplant irrigation should be evaluated and implemented carefully in combination with other agricultural water management technologies and strategies such as soil water monitoring, drip irrigation, and residue management to mitigate negative effects of soil water evaporation and deep drainage.

Technical Abstract: Due to inadequate irrigation capacity, some farmers in the United States High Plains apply preplant irrigation to buffer the crop between irrigation events during the cropping season. The purpose of the study was to determine preplant irrigation amount and irrigation capacity combinations that optimize yield, water productivity, and precipitation use ef'ciency (PUE) and minimize soil water evaporation losses prior to planting. The CERES-Maize model embedded in the RZWQM2 model in combination with long term climatic data from 1986 to 2014 for southwest Kansas were used for this research. Experimental data from 2006 to 2009 was used to calibrate and validate the model. Model performance was satisfactory with high index of agreement (IA > 0.88). Relative root mean square error (RRMSE) ranged between 4.5% and 27%. Under very limited irrigation capacity (2.5 mm/day), applying 75–100 mm of preplant irrigation produced median yields that were 10–17% higher than not applying preplant irrigation. However, even at limited irrigation capacity the bene't of preplant irrigation were only realized if the seasonal yield potential was in the range of 6000 to 10,000 kg/ha corresponding to years with normal seasonal rainfall. Irrigation capacity had a stronger effect on maize grain yield compared to preplant irrigation amount. Preplant irrigation increased ET and transpiration under 2.5 mm/day irrigation capacity. Preplant irrigation amount did not have a substantial impact on water productivity at high and moderate irrigation capacity but had second order dominant effect under limited irrigation capacity. At low irrigation capacity (2.5 mm/day) increasing preplant irrigation increased median PUE up to 18% although the effect was second order dominant. Negligible water losses through deep percolation from 2.4 m soil pro'le were simulated. Increasing preplant irrigation resulted in significantly higher soil water evaporation losses prior to planting at all irrigation capacities. Overall preplant irrigation is benefcial under very limited irrigation capacity but is not necessary under sufficient irrigation capacity in most years. The decision to apply preplant irrigation should be evaluated and implemented carefully in combination with other agricultural water management technologies and strategies such as soil water monitoring, drip irrigation, and residue management.