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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Comparison of Sprinkler, Trickle, Subsurface, and Furrow Irrigation Methods for Row Crops1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 72 No. 5, p. 701-704
    Received: Oct 15, 1979

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  1. Theodore W. Sammis2



Trickle, subsurface, and sprinkler irrigation have been attributed to higher yields and water-use efficiencies than the conventional furrow irrigation method.

The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which these irrigation systems could be used to increase water-use efficiency while maintaining reasonable yields, compared to furrow irrigation, and to determine what effect the frequency of irrigation would have on resulting yields and water-use efficiency.

Potatoes (Solaneum tuberosum) ‘Kennebec’, and lettuce (Lactuca sativa) ‘GL-659’ were watered by sprinkler, trickle, subsurface, and furrow irrigation to maintain a minimum soil-water potential of −20 kPa and −60 kPa.

When potatoes were grown on a Glendale clay-loam soil (mixed calcareous thermic family of Typic Torrifluvent) at a location where rainfall did not supply a significant portion of their water requirements the highest yield and water-use efficiency were achieved using a subsurface irrigation system with water applications occurring when the soil-water potential at the 15 cm depth reached −20 kPa.

When potatoes were grown on a Pedrick sandy-loam soil (coarse-loamy, mixed calcareous, Mesic Ustic Torriorthent) and rainfall contributed a significant portion of the water requirements throughout the growing season, the highest water-use efficiency was obtained with trickle and subsurface systems with water applications occurring when the soil-water potential at the 15 cm depth reached −60 kPa. Differences in yields at this study site were non-significant for all irrigation methods.

The subsurface irrigation method appears to offer the best method of supplying uniform soil moisture in the root zone to the plant throughout the growing season, resulting in highest yields and high water-use efficiencies.

Comparable lettuce yields and water-use efficiencies were achieved by trickle, sprinkler, and frequent subsurface irrigation treatments due to good stand establishment and avoidance of moisture-stress conditions. Infrequent sprinkler irrigations reduced yields due to moisture stress. Furrow irrigation, using proper management and short furrow runs, resulted in yields and water-use efficiencies as high as those of the other irrigation methods. Yield and water-use efficiency were reduced when flooding of the beds occurred at germination.

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