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Water 2015, 7(5), 2254-2271; doi:10.3390/w7052254

Effect of Incident Rainfall Redistribution by Maize Canopy on Soil Moisture at the Crop Row Scale

1
Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural resources, Animals and Environment, Agripolis, University of Padova, Viale Dell'Università 16, Legnaro (Padova) 35020, Italy
2
Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, Agripolis, University of Padova, Viale Dell'Università 16, Legnaro (Padova) 35020, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Miklas Scholz
Received: 24 March 2015 / Revised: 8 May 2015 / Accepted: 11 May 2015 / Published: 15 May 2015
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Abstract

The optimization of irrigation use in agriculture is a key challenge to increase farm profitability and reduce its ecological footprint. To this context, an understanding of more efficient irrigation systems includes the assessment of water redistribution at the microscale. This study aimed to investigate rainfall interception by maize canopy and to model the soil water dynamics at row scale as a result of rain and sprinkler irrigation with HYDRUS 2D/3D. On average, 78% of rainfall below the maize canopy was intercepted by the leaves and transferred along the stem (stemflow), while only 22% reached the ground directly (throughfall). In addition, redistribution of the water with respect to the amount (both rain and irrigation) showed that the stemflow/throughfall ratio decreased logarithmically at increasing values of incident rainfall, suggesting the plant capacity to confine the water close to the roots and diminish water stress conditions. This was also underlined by higher soil moisture values observed in the row than in the inter-row at decreasing rainfall events. Modelled data highlighted different behavior in terms of soil water dynamics between simulated irrigation water distributions, although they did not show significant changes in terms of crop water use efficiency. These results were most likely affected by the soil type (silty-loam) where the experiment was conducted, as it had unfavorable physical conditions for the rapid vertical water movement that would have increased infiltration and drainage. View Full-Text
Keywords: maize; irrigation; soil water content; stemflow; HYDRUS 2D/3D maize; irrigation; soil water content; stemflow; HYDRUS 2D/3D
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Martello, M.; Ferro, N.D.; Bortolini, L.; Morari, F. Effect of Incident Rainfall Redistribution by Maize Canopy on Soil Moisture at the Crop Row Scale. Water 2015, 7, 2254-2271.

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