Date of this Version
Published in Agricultural Water Management 271 (2022) 107795
Information and data about quantification and comparison of crop water productivity indices for various irrigation levels and methods and nitrogen (N) application timings “simultaneously” under the same conditions do not exist. Unprecedented and extensive field experiments were conducted for maize (Zea mays L.) in 2016 and 2017 under center pivot (CP), subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) and furrow irrigation (FI) methods with full irrigation treatment (FIT), 80% FIT, 60% FIT and rainfed treatment (RFT) with three N application timings. N treatments were: (i) traditional (TN), (ii) non-traditional-1 (NT-1) and (iii) non-traditional-2 (NT-2). Irrigation yield production functions (IYPF); evapotranspiration-yield production functions (ETYPF), basal evapotranspiration (ETb), crop water productivity (CWP), irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE); evapotranspiration water use efficiency (ETWUE) and yield response factors (Ky) were quantified for each treatment and irrigation method. SDI method required the least seasonal irrigation amount in achieving maximum yield, followed by CP (>~30 mm more than SDI) and FI (>~55 mm more than SDI). Average crop water requirement for achieving maximum grain yield varied among the N treatments within and between the irrigation methods. Irrigation amounts for achieving maximum yields were about 160, 175 and 175 mm in TN, NT-1 and NT-2 nitrogen treatments, respectively, in the CP method; 130, 150 and 150 mm in TN, NT-1 and NT-2 nitrogen treatments, respectively, in the SDI method; and 184 mm in TN management in the FI method. The highest grain yield production per 25.4 mm of applied irrigation followed the order of CP-TN (2.07 Mg ha–1) > SDI-NT-2 (1.91 Mg ha–1) > FI-TN (1.22 Mg ha–1). Across all treatments for the given irrigation method, the highest averaged CWP of 3.00 kg m–3 (slope = 0.067 kg m–3) was observed in the SDI method (p < 0.05) followed by 2.84 kg m–3 (slope = 0.052 kg m–3) in the CP method (p < 0.05) and 2.51 kg m–3 (slope = 0.046 kg m–3) in the FI method. The lowest ETb was observed in FI-TN (169 mm), followed by CP-NT-2 (172 mm) and SDI-TN (255 mm). For two consecutive years, N treatments did not have significant (p > 0.05) influence on IWUE in the CP or SDI methods. The highest IWUE, CWP and ETWUE were always obtained with limited irrigation treatments (60% FIT and/or 80% FIT) whereas the lowest with FIT. Maize under limited irrigation management had Ky < 1 with CP, SDI and FI along with lower Ky values than the respective TN treatment in CP and SDI, suggesting that the yield reduction is impacted to a lesser degree from the magnitude of water stress. The overall conclusion disclosed that utilizing the combination of limited irrigation (80% FIT) with NT-1 fertigation under SDI and CP, while 80% FIT under FI can be viable management practices for achieving high grain yield and CWP in conditions similar to those presented in this research.