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Water 2017, 9(8), 616; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9080616

Spatiotemporal Patterns of Crop Irrigation Water Requirements in the Heihe River Basin, China

1
Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19(A), Yuquan Road, Shijingshan District, Beijing 100049, China
3
Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 14 August 2017 / Accepted: 15 August 2017 / Published: 17 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Water Management within Inland River Watershed)
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Abstract

Agricultural expansion, population growth, rapid urbanization, and climate change have all significantly impacted global water supply and demand and have led to a number of negative consequences including ecological degradation and decreases in biodiversity, especially in arid and semi-arid areas. The agricultural sector consumes the most water globally; crop irrigation alone uses up more than 80% of available agricultural water. Thus, to maintain sustainable development of the global economy and ecosystems, it is crucial to effectively manage crop irrigation water. We focus on the arid and semi-arid Heihe River Basin (HRB), China, as a case study in this paper, extracting spatiotemporal information on the distribution of crop planting using multi-temporal Thematic Mapper and Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (TM/ETM+) remote sensing (RS) images. We estimate the spatiotemporal crop irrigation water requirements (IWRc) using the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Penman-Monteith method and reveal variations in IWRc. We also analyze the impact of changes in crop planting structure on IWRc and discuss strategies for the rational allocation of irrigation water as well as policies to alleviate imbalance between water supply and demand. The results of this study show that effective rainfall (ER) decreases upstream-to-downstream within the HRB, while crop evapotranspiration under standard conditions (ETc) increases, leading to increasing spatial variation in IWRc from zero up to 150 mm and between 300 and 450 mm. Data show that between 2007 and 2012, annual mean ER decreased from 139.49 to 106.29 mm, while annual mean ETc increased from 483.87 to 500.38 mm, and annual mean IWRc increased from 339.95 to 370.11 mm. Data show that monthly mean IWRc initially increased before decreasing in concert with crop growth. The largest values for this index were recorded during the month of June; results show that IWRc for May and June decreased by 8.14 and 11.67 mm, respectively, while values for July increased by 5.75 mm between 2007 and 2012. These variations have helped to ease the temporal imbalance between water supply and demand. Mean IWRc values for oilseed rape, corn, barley, and other crops all increased over the study period, from 208.43, 349.35, 229.26, and 352.85 mm, respectively, in 2007, to 241.81, 393.10, 251.17, and 378.86 mm, respectively, in 2012. At the same time, the mean IWRc of wheat decreased from 281.53 mm in 2007 to 266.69 mm in 2012. Mainly because of changes in planting structure, the total IWRc for the HRB in 2012 reached 2692.58 × 106 m3, an increase of 332.16 × 106 m3 (14.07%) compared to 2007. Data show that 23.11% (76.77 × 106 m3) of this increase is due to crop transfers, while the remaining 76.89% (255.39 × 106 m3) is the result of the rapid expansion of cultivated land. Thus, to maintain both the sustainable development and ecological security of the HRB, it is crucial to efficiently manage and utilize agricultural water in light of spatiotemporal patterns in IWRc changes as well as IWRc variations between different crops. The cultivation of water-demanding crops and the further expansion of agricultural land should also be avoided. View Full-Text
Keywords: crop irrigation water requirements; crop planting structure; evapotranspiration; TM/ETM+ RS images; FAO Penman-Monteith method; multi-temporal NDVWI; Heihe River Basin crop irrigation water requirements; crop planting structure; evapotranspiration; TM/ETM+ RS images; FAO Penman-Monteith method; multi-temporal NDVWI; Heihe River Basin
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Liu, Y.; Song, W.; Deng, X. Spatiotemporal Patterns of Crop Irrigation Water Requirements in the Heihe River Basin, China. Water 2017, 9, 616.

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