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Irrigation return flow and nitrate leaching under different crops and irrigation methods in Western Mediterranean weather conditions

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  • Poch-Massegú, R.
  • Jiménez-Martínez, J.
  • Wallis, K.J.
  • Ramírez de Cartagena, F.
  • Candela, L.

Abstract

Agriculture constitutes a major source of non-point pollution (e.g., nitrates) where overall water resources are affected, in particular, aquifers. Intensive agricultural practices take place in regions with appropriate weather conditions that are usually deficient in water resources. The preservation of water resources in these types of regions depends on the evaluation of the efficiency of agricultural practices for specific crops and conditions. Although water scarcity is a characteristic feature in the Western Mediterranean, it is one of the most appropriate regions in the world for intensive agriculture development for climatic reasons. In the current work, percolation and N leaching from different crops (corn, potato, and rotation of lettuce and melon) under different irrigation methods (surface, sprinkler and drip) were evaluated through experimental plots. Water (irrigation+precipitation) and fertilizer inputs were accurately controlled. Soil water content and nitrate concentration were monitored from time domain reflectometry measurements, and cup lysimeters and destructive sampling, respectively. Percolation and nitrate leaching was simulated from different numerical codes (STICS and GLEAMS, tipping bucket method; HYDRUS-1D, Richards’ equation), which were chosen based on the available information and the specific purposes of each experiment. For the studied periods, the obtained results showed high percolation values: 34, 58 and 37% of total applied water for corn, potato, and rotation of lettuce and melon, respectively. Also, high N leaching values across all experiences were observed, even higher than the applied doses in some periods as consequence of remobilizing mineralized N, despite following the recommended agricultural management practices. Percolation and N leaching were mostly controlled by the precipitation regime, namely, unevenly distributed intensive rainfall events, mainly in autumn and spring, which have a great impact in irrigated agriculture due to the permanent high soil water content. In detail, irrigation water applied for frost prevention on potato crops and plastic cover for melon crops, played a very important role for both percolation and N leaching. Whilst for the corn crop, N leaching mainly took place in the fallow period (autumn and winter), where the rain leached N present in soil from previous crops.

Suggested Citation

  • Poch-Massegú, R. & Jiménez-Martínez, J. & Wallis, K.J. & Ramírez de Cartagena, F. & Candela, L., 2014. "Irrigation return flow and nitrate leaching under different crops and irrigation methods in Western Mediterranean weather conditions," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-13.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:134:y:2014:i:c:p:1-13
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agwat.2013.11.017
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gheysari, Mahdi & Mirlatifi, Seyed Majid & Homaee, Mehdi & Asadi, Mohammad Esmaeil & Hoogenboom, Gerrit, 2009. "Nitrate leaching in a silage maize field under different irrigation and nitrogen fertilizer rates," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 96(6), pages 946-954, June.
    2. Wallis, K.J. & Candela, L. & Mateos, R.M. & Tamoh, K., 2011. "Simulation of nitrate leaching under potato crops in a Mediterranean area. Influence of frost prevention irrigation on nitrogen transport," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 98(10), pages 1629-1640, August.
    3. Cameira, M. R. & Fernando, R. M. & Pereira, L. S., 2003. "Monitoring water and NO3-N in irrigated maize fields in the Sorraia Watershed, Portugal," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 199-216, May.
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    3. Puertes, Cristina & Bautista, Inmaculada & Lidón, Antonio & Francés, Félix, 2021. "Best management practices scenario analysis to reduce agricultural nitrogen loads and sediment yield to the semiarid Mar Menor coastal lagoon (Spain)," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    4. Shi, Jianchu & Wu, Xun & Zhang, Mo & Wang, Xiaoyu & Zuo, Qiang & Wu, Xiaoguang & Zhang, Hongfei & Ben-Gal, Alon, 2021. "Numerically scheduling plant water deficit index-based smart irrigation to optimize crop yield and water use efficiency," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 248(C).
    5. Naghedifar, Seyed Mohammadreza & Ziaei, Ali Naghi & Ansari, Hossein, 2018. "Simulation of irrigation return flow from a Triticale farm under sprinkler and furrow irrigation systems using experimental data: A case study in arid region," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 210(C), pages 185-197.
    6. Libutti, Angela & Monteleone, Massimo, 2017. "Soil vs. groundwater: The quality dilemma. Managing nitrogen leaching and salinity control under irrigated agriculture in Mediterranean conditions," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 186(C), pages 40-50.
    7. Woli, Prem & Hoogenboom, Gerrit & Alva, Ashok, 2016. "Simulation of potato yield, nitrate leaching, and profit margins as influenced by irrigation and nitrogen management in different soils and production regions," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 120-130.
    8. Tang, Jianzhao & Xiao, Dengpan & Wang, Jing & Fang, Quanxiao & Zhang, Jun & Bai, Huizi, 2021. "Optimizing water and nitrogen managements for potato production in the agro-pastoral ecotone in North China," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 253(C).
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    10. Hu, Qiuli & Yang, Yonghui & Han, Shumin & Yang, Yanmin & Ai, Zhipin & Wang, Jiusheng & Ma, Fengyun, 2017. "Identifying changes in irrigation return flow with gradually intensified water-saving technology using HYDRUS for regional water resources management," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 194(C), pages 33-47.
    11. Li, Danfeng, 2020. "Quantifying water use and groundwater recharge under flood irrigation in an arid oasis of northwestern China," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 240(C).
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