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Open AccessArticle

A Simple Method for Estimating Field Crop Evapotranspiration from Pot Experiments

College of Resource and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agriculture University, Nanjing 210095, China
State Experimental Station of Agro-Ecosystem in Fengqiu, State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2018, 10(12), 1823;
Received: 29 October 2018 / Revised: 4 December 2018 / Accepted: 8 December 2018 / Published: 11 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Hydrology in Agriculture)
PDF [4046 KB, uploaded 11 December 2018]


Pot experiments are a low-cost and easy-to-use technique for studies of soil evaporation and plant transpiration in controlled environments. However, little attention has been paid to the applicability of evapotranspiration (ET) measured in pot experiments to the field. The objective of this study was to determine whether a pot experiment can be used for measuring field ET. Evapotranspiration experiments with winter wheat and summer maize were conducted in pots and lysimeters under various water-deficit conditions. The measured ET values in the pot experiments under different water conditions were considerably different from those of the lysimeters. Causes of such differences in ET were analyzed, and a series of corrections were proposed to eliminate the effects of different crop densities, representative areas per plant, and soil moisture conditions on pot experiment results. After these corrections, the discrepancy in the total ET of wheat-maize seasons between pots and lysimeters was greatly reduced from a maximum of 117% to only approximately 10%. The relative mean square errors (RMSEs) for daily ET values also decreased from a maximum value of 4.56 mm to less than 1.5 mm for the wheat season and from a maximum value of 6.02 mm to approximately 2 mm for the maize season. Possible measures were proposed to further improve the accuracy of the corrected ET obtained from pot experiments. In sum, pot experiments can serve as a feasible tool for estimating ET in the field just with a few routine measurements at regions where large-scale weighing lysimeters, an eddy covariance device, and even meteorological data are not available. The proposed corrections can also be used for upscaling small-scale ET measurements to a large scale. View Full-Text
Keywords: crop transpiration; wheat-maize; lysimeter; upscaling; field scale crop transpiration; wheat-maize; lysimeter; upscaling; field scale

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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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Lu, Y.; Ma, D.; Chen, X.; Zhang, J. A Simple Method for Estimating Field Crop Evapotranspiration from Pot Experiments. Water 2018, 10, 1823.

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