The relationship between soil water content (SWC) and vegetation, topography, and climatic conditions is critical for developing effective agricultural water management practices and improving agricultural water use efficiency in arid areas. The purpose of this study was to determine how crop cover influenced spatial and temporal variation of soil water. During a study, SWC was measured under maize and wheat for two years in northwest China. Statistical methods and entropy analysis were applied to investigate the spatio-temporal variability of SWC and the interaction between SWC and its influencing factors. The SWC variability changed within the field plot, with the standard deviation reaching a maximum value under intermediate mean SWC in different layers under various conditions (climatic conditions, soil conditions, crop type conditions). The spatial-temporal-distribution of the SWC reflects the variability of precipitation and potential evapotranspiration (ET0
) under different crop covers. The mutual entropy values between SWC and precipitation were similar in two years under wheat cover but were different under maize cover. However, the mutual entropy values at different depths were different under different crop covers. The entropy values changed with SWC following an exponential trend. The informational correlation coefficient (R0
) between the SWC and the precipitation was higher than that between SWC and other factors at different soil depths. Precipitation was the dominant factor controlling the SWC variability, and the crop efficient was the second dominant factor. This study highlights the precipitation is a paramount factor for investigating the spatio-temporal variability of soil water content in Northwest China.
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