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A partial root zone drying irrigation strategy for citrus--Effects on water use efficiency and fruit characteristics


  • Hutton, R.J.
  • Loveys, B.R.


In Australian irrigated citriculture, fruit yield and quality outcomes are not tightly related to levels of plant available water, which raises the possibility of using mild water stress applied to part of the root zone, i.e. partial root zone drying, to stimulate physiological mechanisms that reduce tree water use by changing the relationship between stomatal conductance and ambient evaporative conditions. The PRD technique alternates irrigation such that one side of the tree root zone is allowed to dry whilst the other side is irrigated. This significantly reduces the wetted soil volume at any point in time, whilst always maintaining a readily available water supply to part of the root zone. By adopting this irrigation strategy water use of mature Navel orange trees C. sinensis (L.) Osbeck was reduced and water use efficiency was increased. The technique did not induce excessive fruitlet drop and crop yield was unaffected. Both fruit size and juice percentage slightly decreased whereas total soluble solids percentage (TSS) and juice acid percentage increased. As water use was reduced and juice quality attributes were increased, this technique has obvious benefits for juice fruit production. PRD offers an advantage over conventional deficit irrigation strategies because it helps reduce water use by separating the biochemical signaling responses to water deficit in the dry part of the root zone from the physical effects of reduced stomatal conductance due to lower water availability, allowing developmental processes associated with plant growth to remain unperturbed. Irrigating a reduced root zone volume in this way reduces crop water requirement. However, it is also important to understand that this technique pushes the crop to its limits and should only be applied to well established healthy trees. When applying PRD irrigation, it is important that water is supplied with sufficient frequency and depth of wetting to meet the water needs of the whole plant.

Suggested Citation

  • Hutton, R.J. & Loveys, B.R., 2011. "A partial root zone drying irrigation strategy for citrus--Effects on water use efficiency and fruit characteristics," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 98(10), pages 1485-1496, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:98:y:2011:i:10:p:1485-1496

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Treeby, M.T. & Henriod, R.E. & Bevington, K.B. & Milne, D.J. & Storey, R., 2007. "Irrigation management and rootstock effects on navel orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] fruit quality," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-3), pages 24-32, July.
    2. Kang, Shaozhong & Liang, Zongsuo & Pan, Yinhua & Shi, Peize & Zhang, Jianhua, 2000. "Alternate furrow irrigation for maize production in an arid area," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 267-274, August.
    3. Ben-Asher, J., 1979. "Trickle irrigation timing and its effect on plant and soil water status," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-232, November.
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    1. repec:eee:agiwat:v:203:y:2018:i:c:p:322-332 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Parvizi, Hossein & Sepaskhah, Ali Reza & Ahmadi, Seyed Hamid, 2016. "Physiological and growth responses of pomegranate tree (Punica granatum (L.) cv. Rabab) under partial root zone drying and deficit irrigation regimes," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 146-158.
    3. Kusakabe, A. & Contreras-Barragan, B.A. & Simpson, C.R. & Enciso, J.M. & Nelson, S.D. & Melgar, J.C., 2016. "Application of partial rootzone drying to improve irrigation water use efficiency in grapefruit trees," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 66-75.
    4. Parvizi, Hossein & Sepaskhah, Ali Reza & Ahmadi, Seyed Hamid, 2014. "Effect of drip irrigation and fertilizer regimes on fruit yields and water productivity of a pomegranate (Punica granatum (L.) cv. Rabab) orchard," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 45-56.
    5. Barrios-Masias, Felipe H. & Jackson, Louise E., 2016. "Increasing the effective use of water in processing tomatoes through alternate furrow irrigation without a yield decrease," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 107-117.
    6. Du, Shaoqing & Kang, Shaozhong & Li, Fusheng & Du, Taisheng, 2017. "Water use efficiency is improved by alternate partial root-zone irrigation of apple in arid northwest China," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 184-192.
    7. Romero, Pascual & Muñoz, Rocío Gil & Fernández-Fernández, J.I. & del Amor, Francisco M. & Martínez-Cutillas, Adrián & García-García, José, 2015. "Improvement of yield and grape and wine composition in field-grown Monastrell grapevines by partial root zone irrigation, in comparison with regulated deficit irrigation," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 55-73.


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