Determining Optimum Irrigation Termination Periods for Cotton Production in the Texas High Plains Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • HighlightsIrrigation water use efficiency was consistently higher under deficit irrigation as compared to full irrigation.Irrigation water use was always less than the annual allowable pumping limit under deficit irrigation.The first/second week of September was ideal for terminating irrigation under full/deficit irrigation in normal years.Ideal irrigation termination periods in wet/dry years were a week earlier/later than those in normal years.Abstract. Cotton ( L.) production in the Texas High Plains (THP) region relies heavily on irrigation with groundwater from the underlying Ogallala Aquifer. However, rapidly declining groundwater levels in the aquifer and increasing pumping costs pose challenges for sustainability of irrigated cotton production in this region. Adoption of efficient irrigation strategies, such as terminating irrigation at an appropriate time in the growing season, could enable producers to increase irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE) while maintaining desired yield goals. The objective of this study was to determine optimum irrigation termination periods for cotton production in the THP under full and deficit irrigation conditions using the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) CROPGRO-Cotton model, which was evaluated in a prior study in the THP using measured data from an IWUE field experiment at Halfway, Texas. The treatment factors in the field experiment included irrigation capacities of 0 mm d-1 (low, L), 3.2 mm d-1 (medium, M), and 6.4 mm d-1 (high, H), applied during the vegetative, reproductive, and maturation growth stages. This study focused on a full irrigation (HHH) treatment and three deficit irrigation (LMH, LHM, and LMM) treatments. Eight irrigation termination dates with a one-week interval between 15 August and 30 September were simulated, and the impact of irrigation termination date on cotton IWUE and seed cotton yield were studied by dividing the 39-year (1978 to 2016) simulation period into dry, normal, and wet years based on the precipitation received from 1 April to the simulated irrigation termination date. Results indicated that the simulated IWUE was consistently higher under the LHM, LMH, and LMM treatments when compared to the HHH treatment. Based on the simulated average seed cotton yield and IWUE, optimum irrigation termination periods for cotton were found to be the first week of September (about 118 days after planting, DAP) for the HHH and LMH treatments and the second week of September (125 DAP) for the LHM and LMM treatments in normal years. In wet years, optimum irrigation termination periods were a week earlier than those in normal years and a week later in dry years for the HHH, LHM, and LMM treatments. For the LMH treatment, the optimum irrigation termination period in wet years was the same as that in normal years and two weeks later in dry years. The results from this study along with field-specific, late-season information will assist THP cotton producers in making appropriate irrigation termination decisions for improving economic productivity of the Ogallala Aquifer and thereby ensuring water security for agriculture. However, the recommendations from this study should be used with caution, as the optimum irrigation termination periods could potentially change with changes in cultivar characteristics, soil type, climate, and, crop management practices. Keywords: CROPGRO-Cotton, Deficit irrigation, DSSAT, Full irrigation, Irrigation water use efficiency, Seed cotton yield.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ale, S., Omani, N., Himanshu, S. K., Bordovsky, J. P., Thorp, K. R., & Barnes, E. M.

publication date

  • January 1, 2020 11:11 AM