Special Issue "Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Use and Irrigation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Huade Guan
Website
Guest Editor
Flinders University College of Science & Engineering, Adelaide, Australia
Interests: ecohydrology; hydrometeorology; evapotranspiration; stormwater harvesting; environmental tracers
Dr. Zailin Huo
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Agricultural Water Research in China, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 100083, P.R. China
Interests: Dr Huo’ researches mainly focus on agricultural hydrology process at multi-scales in arid and semi-arid area. Recently, his research is aim to understand agricultural water use and water productively under change environments including climate change and agricultural water saving activities. The research work include quantifying the relationship of crop water use- soil water (salt)-groundwater, developing agricultural hydrology model at field and irrigation scales, clarifying the response of regional evapotranspiration and groundwater to climate change and water saving irrigation.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agricultural production to meet the increasing global demand for food and fibre is facing challenges due to the limits in arable cropland area and water availability, under a changing climate. Increasing water productivity, while maintaining high crop yields, seems to be a reasonable solution for areas where water resources are a constraint for crop productivity. This Special Issue calls for contributions on increasing water productivity through various measures, including, but not limited to, advanced irrigation techniques, improved agronomic practice and fertilization, optimized groundwater depth (where applicable), optimal irrigation water management, selecting new crop genotypes, elevated carbon dioxide concentration, and modified radiation conditions. Studies of policy and economic solutions for improving crop water productivity are also welcome.

In the literature, the term “water use efficiency” is sometimes used to refer to water productivity, which, in our opinion, has caused ambiguity and confusion. We thus invite discussion papers on how the terminology can be unified for better communication in crop water productivity. In this regard, Dr. Ragab Ragab, Vice President, International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, has kindly agreed to write a featured article. We will elect two more feature articles from submission to this Special Issue.

Dr. Huade Guan
Dr. Zailin Huo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Water use efficiency
  • water productivity
  • climate-smart agriculture
  • water saving irrigation
  • water management

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Potential and Actual Water Savings through Improved Irrigation Scheduling in Small-Scale Vegetable Production
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 888; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120888 - 14 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Appropriate irrigation scheduling for efficient water use is often a challenge for small-scale farmers using drip irrigation. In a trial with 12 farmers in Sébaco, Nicaragua, two tools to facilitate irrigation scheduling were tested: the Water Chart (a table indicating required irrigation doses) [...] Read more.
Appropriate irrigation scheduling for efficient water use is often a challenge for small-scale farmers using drip irrigation. In a trial with 12 farmers in Sébaco, Nicaragua, two tools to facilitate irrigation scheduling were tested: the Water Chart (a table indicating required irrigation doses) and tensiometers. The study aimed at evaluating if and to what extent simple tools can reduce irrigation water use and improve water productivity in drip-irrigated vegetable (beetroot; Beta vulgaris L.) production compared with the farmers’ usual practice. Irrigation water use was substantially reduced (around 20%) when farmers irrigated according to the tools. However, farmers did not fully adhere to the tool guidance, probably because they feared that their crop would not get sufficient water. Thus they still over-irrigated their crop: between 38% and 88% more water than recommended was used during the treatment period, resulting in 91% to 139% higher water use than required over the entire growing cycle. Water productivity of beetroot production was, therefore, much lower (around 3 kg/m3) than what can be achieved under comparable conditions, although yields were decent. Differences in crop yield and water productivity among treatments were not significant. The simplified Water Chart was not sufficiently understandable to farmers (and technicians), whereas tensiometers were better perceived, although they do not provide any indication on how much water to apply. We conclude that innovations such as drip irrigation or improved irrigation scheduling have to be appropriately introduced, e.g., by taking sufficient time to co-produce a common understanding about the technologies and their possible usefulness, and by ensuring adequate follow-up support. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Lysimeter-Based Water Use and Crop Coefficient of Drip-Irrigated Potato in an Arid Environment
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 756; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110756 - 14 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The determination of the water requirements and crop coefficient (Kc) of agricultural crops helps to create an appropriate irrigation schedule, and with the effective management of irrigation water. The aim of this research was to estimate the water requirement, Kc [...] Read more.
The determination of the water requirements and crop coefficient (Kc) of agricultural crops helps to create an appropriate irrigation schedule, and with the effective management of irrigation water. The aim of this research was to estimate the water requirement, Kc, and water-use efficiency (WUE) of potato using non-weighing-type lysimeters in four regions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Qassiem, Riyadh, Al-Jouf, and Eastern). Our results clearly show that the accumulated values of the measured crop evapotranspiration of potato derived from the lysimeters were 573, 554, 592, and 570 mm, while the accumulated values of the predicted crop evapotranspiration from Penman-Monteith equation based on FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) were 651, 632, 672, and 647 mm for the Qassiem, Riyadh, Al-Jouf, and Eastern regions, respectively. The Kc values of potato obtained from the lysimeters were Kc initial (0.58, 0.54, 0.50, and 0.52), Kc middle (1.02, 1.05, 1.13, and 1.10), and Kc end (0.73, 0.74, 0.74, and 0.75) for the Qassiem, Riyadh, Al-Jouf, and Eastern regions, respectively. Based on the amount of water used and the yield achieved, the highest WUE (3.6 kg m−3) was observed in the Riyadh region, while the lowest WUE (1.5 kg m−3) was observed in the Al-Jouf region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Deficit Irrigation as a Sustainable Practice in Improving Irrigation Water Use Efficiency in Cauliflower under Mediterranean Conditions
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 732; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110732 - 08 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Water shortage is one of the major constraints in vegetable production. Deficit irrigation is a sustainable technique that improves irrigation water use efficiency. Field studies were conducted during two growing seasons to evaluate the effects of deficit irrigation on plant growth, plant water [...] Read more.
Water shortage is one of the major constraints in vegetable production. Deficit irrigation is a sustainable technique that improves irrigation water use efficiency. Field studies were conducted during two growing seasons to evaluate the effects of deficit irrigation on plant growth, plant water status, productive response (curd yield and quality), irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE), and crop profitability of cauliflower. Nine irrigation treatments were used, applying 100%, 75% (moderate), or 50% (severe) of the irrigation water requirements (IWR) during the entire growing season (Continued Deficit Irrigation, CDI), or 75% and 50% of IWR during one of the following stages (Regulated Deficit Irrigation, RDI): Juvenility, curd induction, and curd growth. Severe deficit irrigation applied during juvenility and curd induction reduced the plant size, but it only led to a significant reduction of marketable yield (22%), and average curd size and weight if it was maintained throughout the crop cycle, supposing the highest IWUE (43.6 kg m−3). Moderate CDI or severe RDI during juvenility did not reduce significantly the curd yield compared to fully irrigated plants (4.4 kg m−2), thereby obtaining similar gross revenues (16,859 € ha−1) with important water savings (up to 24.3%), improving IWUE (up to 34.2 kg m−3). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Remotely-Sensed Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) Water Stress Responses Across a Viticultural Region
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 682; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110682 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The evolving spatial and temporal knowledge about vineyard performance through the use of remote sensing offers new perspectives for vine water status studies. This paper describes the application of aerial thermal imaging to evaluate vine water status to improve irrigation scheduling decisions, water [...] Read more.
The evolving spatial and temporal knowledge about vineyard performance through the use of remote sensing offers new perspectives for vine water status studies. This paper describes the application of aerial thermal imaging to evaluate vine water status to improve irrigation scheduling decisions, water use efficiency, and overall winegrape quality in the Coonawarra viticultural region of South Australia. Airborne infrared images were acquired during the 2016 and 2017 growing seasons in the region of Coonawarra, South Australia. Several thermal indices of crop water status (CWSI, Ig, (Tc-Ta)) were calculated that correlated with conventional soil and vine water status measures (Ψpd, Ψs, gs). CWSI and Ig could discriminate between the two cultivars used in this study, Cabernet Sauvignon (CAS) and Shiraz (SHI), as did the conventional water stress measures. The relationship between conventional vine water status measures appeared stronger with CWSI in the warmer and drier season (2016) compared to the cooler and wetter season (2017), where Ig and (Tc-Ta) showed stronger correlations. The study identified CWSI, Ig and (Tc-Ta) to be reliable indicators of vine water status under a variety of environmental conditions. This is the first study to report on high resolution vine water status at a regional scale in Australia using a combination of remote and direct sensing methods. This methodology is promising for aerial surveillance of vine water status across multiple blocks and cultivars to inform irrigation scheduling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Limiting the Growth of Eucalyptus and the Characteristics of Growth and Water Use under Water and Fertilizer Management in the Dry Season of Leizhou Peninsula, China
Agronomy 2019, 9(10), 590; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9100590 - 27 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The growth rate of eucalyptus in the dry season was significantly lower than that in the wet season. However, the limiting factors of eucalyptus growth in the dry season are not clear. In this paper, through the continuous monitoring of the diameter growth [...] Read more.
The growth rate of eucalyptus in the dry season was significantly lower than that in the wet season. However, the limiting factors of eucalyptus growth in the dry season are not clear. In this paper, through the continuous monitoring of the diameter growth and environmental factors of 5.5-year-old Eucalyptus urophylla S. T. Blake × E. grandis W. Hill ex Maiden in the dry season, the diameter growth characteristics of eucalyptus during the dry season were studied and the limiting factors of eucalyptus growth in the dry season were determined. The water and fertilizer management activities in the dry season were evaluated to verify the growth and water use characteristics of Eucalyptus urophylla × E. grandis in the dry season under the conditions of mitigation limiting factors and provide the basis for further increasing the growth rate of eucalyptus. The results show that the diameter fluctuation of Eucalyptus urophylla × E. grandis is cyclical and the diameter cumulative growth during the dry season monitoring is consistent with the Gompertz model. Atmospheric temperature and soil water content are the main factors limiting the growth of Eucalyptus urophylla × E. grandis in the dry season. Irrigation and fertilization in the dry season can significantly increase the growth of diameter at breast height (DBH) and biomass growth and significantly improve the water use efficiency in the dry season. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of Zeolite and Phosphorus Applications on Water Use, P Uptake and Yield in Rice under Different Irrigation Managements
Agronomy 2019, 9(9), 537; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9090537 - 11 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Phosphorus (P) deficiency often occurs in paddy fields due to its high fixation, and low solubility and mobility in soils, especially under water stress. Available soil P and plant P uptake could be improved through the application of zeolite. However, little is known [...] Read more.
Phosphorus (P) deficiency often occurs in paddy fields due to its high fixation, and low solubility and mobility in soils, especially under water stress. Available soil P and plant P uptake could be improved through the application of zeolite. However, little is known about the impact of zeolite on P uptake in rice under water stress. A two-year lysimetric experiment using a split-split plot design investigated the effects of zeolite (0 or 15 t ha−1) and P (0 or 60 kg ha−1) applications on water use, P uptake, and grain yield in rice under two irrigation management systems (continuous flooding irrigation (CF) and improved alternate wetting and drying irrigation (IAWD)). Both irrigation systems produced equivalent effective panicles and grain yield. Compared with CF, IAWD reduced water use and aboveground P uptake and improved water-use efficiency (WUE) in rice. The applications of zeolite or P alone increased grain yield, WUE, soil available P, and stem, leaf, and panicle P concentration, and aboveground P uptake, but had no significant effect on water use. The enhanced grain yield induced by zeolite was related to the increase in aboveground P uptake. The zeolite application enhanced NH4+–N retention in the topsoil and prevented NO3–N from leaching into deeper soil layers. Moreover, Zeolite made lower rates of P fertilizer possible in paddy fields, with benefits for remaining P supplies and mitigating pollution due to excessive P. These results suggest that the combined application of zeolite and P under improved AWD regime reduced water use, improved P uptake and grain yield in rice, and alleviated environment risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Surface Straw Incorporation Rate on Water–Salt Balance and Maize Yield in Soil Subject to Secondary Salinization with Brackish Water Irrigation
Agronomy 2019, 9(7), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9070341 - 27 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Secondary salinization induced by brackish water irrigation has forced agricultural development to increasingly rely on soil management. A two-year field experiment was conducted to explore the effects of different straw incorporation rates (SIRs) within 0 to 20 cm topsoil on the soil water–salt [...] Read more.
Secondary salinization induced by brackish water irrigation has forced agricultural development to increasingly rely on soil management. A two-year field experiment was conducted to explore the effects of different straw incorporation rates (SIRs) within 0 to 20 cm topsoil on the soil water–salt balance, maize yield production, and water use efficiency (WUE) under brackish water irrigation in a naturally non-saline area. Air-dried wheat straw was applied at the rates of 0, 4.5, 9.0, 13.5, and 18.0 t ha−1 (R0–R4) and two salinity levels of irrigation water with the salt content of 1.92 dS m−1 (SL) and 3.20 dS m−1 (SH) were applied for simulating the scenarios of secondary salinization. Results demonstrated that straw incorporation markedly increased the soil water content during two growing seasons, and SIR was directly correlated to the deep percolation, but inversely correlated to the soil water depletion, under both the SL and SH condition. Meanwhile, straw incorporation led to the increase in salt content within the straw incorporation zone, but the total mass of salt deposited in the 0–100 cm soil profile was comparatively reduced as SIR increased due to the increased deep percolation for salt leaching, and such relative alleviation was more pronounced under the SH condition. The significantly increased maize yield and its corresponding WUE were obtained in treatments with high SIR levels. Additionally, an exponential function was used to describe the trend of the yield-increasing rate as SIR increased, and the theoretical maximum of grain and biomass yield calculated from the fitting results were 6483 in 17,282 kg ha−1 under SL, and 5440 and 14,501 kg ha−1 under SH, respectively. Results in this study would be helpful in the adoption of straw incorporation and brackish water irrigation in ways that facilitate soil water availability and reduce the risk of soil salinization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Water Content and High-Resolution Imagery for Precision Irrigation: Maize Yield
Agronomy 2019, 9(4), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9040174 - 05 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Improvement in water use efficiency of crops is a key component in addressing the increasing global water demand. The time and depth of the soil water monitoring are essential when defining the amount of water to be applied to irrigated crops. Precision irrigation [...] Read more.
Improvement in water use efficiency of crops is a key component in addressing the increasing global water demand. The time and depth of the soil water monitoring are essential when defining the amount of water to be applied to irrigated crops. Precision irrigation (PI) is a relatively new concept in agriculture, and it provides a vast potential for enhancing water use efficiency, while maintaining or increasing grain yield. Neutron probes (NPs) have consistently been used as a robust and accurate method to estimate soil water content (SWC). Remote sensing derived vegetation indices have been successfully used to estimate variability of Leaf Area Index and biomass, which are related to root water uptake. Crop yield has not been evaluated on a basis of SWC, as explained by NPs in time and at different depths. The objectives of this study were (1) to determine the optimal time and depth of SWC and its relationship to maize grain yield (2) to determine if satellite-derived vegetation indices coupled with SWC could further improve the relationship between maize grain yield and SWC. Soil water and remote sensing data were collected throughout the crop season and analyzed. The results from the automated model selection of SWC readings, used to assess maize yield, consistently selected three dates spread around reproductive growth stages for most depths (p value < 0.05). SWC readings at the 90 cm depth had the highest correlation with maize yield, followed closely by the 120 cm. When coupled with remote sensing data, models improved by adding vegetation indices representing the crop health status at V9, right before tasseling. Thus, SWC monitoring at reproductive stages combined with vegetation indices could be a tool for improving maize irrigation management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Estimating Crop Transpiration of Soybean under Different Irrigation Treatments Using Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing Imagery
Agronomy 2019, 9(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9010008 - 26 Dec 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Temporal and spatial resolution of satellite images are coarse and cannot provide the real-time, meter-scale resolution monitoring required in many applications, such as precision agriculture. Since high resolution thermal infrared data provide one means to observe canopy temperature variance, we developed an algorithm [...] Read more.
Temporal and spatial resolution of satellite images are coarse and cannot provide the real-time, meter-scale resolution monitoring required in many applications, such as precision agriculture. Since high resolution thermal infrared data provide one means to observe canopy temperature variance, we developed an algorithm (three-temperature model, 3T) to estimate transpiration rate at meter-scale pixels and detected transpiration variation for soybean under different upper irrigation limits: No irrigation, 35% of field capacity (FC), 55% of FC, and 75% of FC, denoted as W0, W1, W2, and W3, respectively. The spatial patterns of the transpiration rate indicated that heterogeneity is common in farmland. Transpiration rates in the wet treatment (i.e., W3) were consistently higher than that in the dry treatment (i.e., W0). Transpiration rates reached peak values at around 12:30–14:30 and most of values showed that W3 > W2 > W1 > W0, with 0.91 mm/h, 0.89 mm/h, 0.79 mm/h, and 0.62 mm/h during the reproductive period, respectively. In general, the transpiration rate of soybean increased with increasing irrigation quantities. With a higher irrigation total, soil water content increased gradually, and then the transpiration rate increased. Although land surface temperature decreased by only 8.57 K (Kelvin), 6.33 K, and 5.47 K, respectively, the transpiration rate increased by 78%, 60%, and 40%, respectively, for the W3, W2, and W1 treatment compared with the W0 treatment. The magnitude of transpiration change is greater than that of canopy temperature, but both parameters are strongly interrelated with each other through a non-linear correlation. Heterogeneity of canopy leaf temperature and transpiration is mainly due to physical and biological interactions. Understanding transpiration rate and canopy temperature heterogeneity under different irrigation treatments can not only help in scheduling irrigation, but also in enhancing water utilization efficiency in irrigated agriculture. The real-time monitoring of crop transpiration at meter-scale is of great importance for large irrigation systems, especially for precision irrigation, and will have great application prospects in the near future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
A Review of Current and Potential Applications of Remote Sensing to Study the Water Status of Horticultural Crops
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010140 - 17 Jan 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
With increasingly advanced remote sensing systems, more accurate retrievals of crop water status are being made at the individual crop level to aid in precision irrigation. This paper summarises the use of remote sensing for the estimation of water status in horticultural crops. [...] Read more.
With increasingly advanced remote sensing systems, more accurate retrievals of crop water status are being made at the individual crop level to aid in precision irrigation. This paper summarises the use of remote sensing for the estimation of water status in horticultural crops. The remote measurements of the water potential, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, canopy 3D structure, and vigour for water status estimation are presented in this comprehensive review. These parameters directly or indirectly provide estimates of crop water status, which is critically important for irrigation management in farms. The review is organised into four main sections: (i) remote sensing platforms; (ii) the remote sensor suite; (iii) techniques adopted for horticultural applications and indicators of water status; and, (iv) case studies of the use of remote sensing in horticultural crops. Finally, the authors’ view is presented with regard to future prospects and research gaps in the estimation of the crop water status for precision irrigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Increasing Agricultural Water Productivity in a Changing Environment)
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