Date of this Version
Irrig Sci (2013) 31:911–929; DOI 10.1007/s00271-012-0368-7
Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz is a promising, biodiesel-producing oilseed that could potentially be implemented as a low-input alternative crop for production in the arid southwestern USA. However, little is known about camelina’s water use, irrigation management, and agronomic characteristics in this arid environment. Camelina experiments were conducted for 2 years (January to May in 2008 and 2010) in Maricopa, Arizona, to evaluate the effectiveness of previously developed heat unit and remote sensing basal crop coefficient (Kcb) methods for predicting camelina crop evapotranspiration (ET) and irrigation scheduling. Besides Kcb methods, additional treatment factors included two different irrigation scheduling soil water depletion (SWD) levels (45 and 65 %) and two levels of seasonal N applications within a randomized complete block design with 4 blocks. Soil water content measurements taken in all treatment plots and applied in soil water balance calculations were used to evaluate the predicted ET. The heat-unit Kcb method was updated and validated during the second experiment to predict ET to within 12–13 % of the ET calculated by the soil water balance. The remote sensing Kcb method predicted ET within 7–10 % of the soil water balance. Seasonal ET from the soil water balance was significantly greater for the remote sensing than heat-unit Kcb method and significantly greater for the 45 than 65 % SWD level. However, final seed yield means, which varied from 1,500 to 1,640 kg ha-1 for treatments, were not significantly different between treatments or years. Seed oil contents averaged 45 % in both years. Seed yield was found to be linearly related to seasonal ET with maximum yield occurring at about 470–490 mm of seasonal ET. Differences in camelina seed yields due to seasonal N applications (69–144 kg N ha-1 over the 2 years) were not significant. Further investigations are needed to characterize camelina yield response over a wider range of irrigation and N inputs.