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An index of soil drought intensity and degree: An application on corn and a comparison with CWSI


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  • Chen, Jiazhou
  • Lin, Lirong
  • Lü, Guoan
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    A variety of indices have been used to measure soil and crop drought for irrigation scheduling. However, simple indices with physiological mechanisms from soil water content are still expected. Based on the water flow and supply in a soil-plant continuum, we examined the concepts of soil drought intensity and drought degree and found an empirical correlation between soil water storage and depletion in a given layer. Accordingly, an index of soil drought intensity (I) and degree (D) was established using the soil water data obtained from a field experiment conducted in Xianning, Hubei, China. Corn plants (Zea mays L., Yedan 13) were grown at field plots under a movable rain shelter. From the V6 stage to R1 stage, the corn plants were grown under seven soil water deficit levels, by no irrigation applied for 0-36 days in 2005 and 0-32 days in 2006. At the end of the irrigation withholding period, it was found that soil water below 70cm still remained at high level, but the soil water was not easily transported to the root zone in the upper layer. The daily values of I in different soil layers reflected the soil water depletion rates in the drying course. The values of D in different soil layers, which were calculated from I, increased with the progressive soil drying course. The D index in different soil layers not only revealed the drought severity of the layer, but it was also inversely correlated with corn yields when D was less than the threshold values. When D went beyond the thresholds, for example 0.68 in 2005 (soil dried 25 days) and 0.70 in 2006 (soil dried 17 days) in the 0-10cm soil layer, the corn yield was reduced significantly. Based on soil water changes, index D is the comprehensive result of antecedent soil water condition, crop growth and root development, soil properties, and potential atmospheric evaporation. It is also comparable to the development of drought hazard on a crop. The results suggest that soil drought degree D, together with I, can be an index for monitoring and evaluating soil-crop drought, as well as complementing the crop water stress index (CWSI) in irrigation scheduling.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Agricultural Water Management.

    Volume (Year): 97 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 6 (June)
    Pages: 865-871

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:97:y:2010:i:6:p:865-871

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    Keywords: Drought index Soil water Soil drought intensity Soil drought degree;


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    1. Gontia, N.K. & Tiwari, K.N., 2008. "Development of crop water stress index of wheat crop for scheduling irrigation using infrared thermometry," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 95(10), pages 1144-1152, October.
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    Cited by:
    1. Mati, Rastislav & Kotorová, Dana & Gombos, Milan & Kandra, Branislav, 2011. "Development of evapotranspiration and water supply of clay-loamy soil on the East Slovak Lowland," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 98(7), pages 1133-1140, May.


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