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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Lentil Water Use and Fallow Water Loss in a Semiarid Climate


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 88 No. 5, p. 723-728
    Received: Aug 14, 1995

    * Corresponding author(s): rico@yahoo.com
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  1. J. Kristian Aase ,
  2. Joseph L. Pikul Jr.,
  3. John H. Prueger and
  4. Jerry L. Hatfield
  1. U SDA-ARS, Northwest Irrigation and Soils Res. Lab., 3793 N. 3600 E., Kimberly, ID 83341
    U SDA-ARS, Northern Grain Insects Res. Lab., RR 3, Box 3, Brookings, SD 57006



With renewed interest in legumes for green manures or as partial summer fallow replacement crops, it is important to know water requirements of these crops in semiarid agriculture. Our objective was to evaluate seasonal water use by black lentil (Lens culinaris Medikus cv. Indianhead), a potential fallow replacement crop, and to relate water use to parameters useful as soil water management tools. We measured evapotranspiration (ET) from two precision weighing lysimeters located on a Williams loam (fine-loamy, mixed Typic Argiboroll) near Sidney, MT. The lysimeters were in adjacent 180- by 180-mf ields in a typical strip-crop environmenot f the semiarid northern Great Plains. Bowen ratio estimates of ET were also obtained. Lentil was seeded no-till into wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) stubble on one lysimeter field in 1993, and the other was left in chemical fallow. Seeded and fallow fields were rotated in 1994. Water loss by ET from lentil and fallow lysimeters was the same (≂25 mm) for 3 wk following seeding. Plant height was related to growing degree days (GDD) in both years. Cumulative ET was related to GDD for both years until about 800 GDD, corresponding to nearly 300 nun ET. Deciding how much water to sacrifice (with hopes of recovery during the noncrop period) becomes a matter of judgment about probable rainfall. At full bloom (≂2 Mg ha−1 dry matter production), the lentil crop used about 50 to 70 mm more water than fallow. Probably no more than 50 mm of water loss above that from fallow should be sacrificed if a grain crop is to be seeded the following year. From a practical standpoint, because plant height was closely related to both GDD and cumulative ET, it is plausible that a simple measure of lentil height (about 350 mmm aximumc) an give sufficient accuracy for determining when lentil growth, as a partial sunnner fallow replacement crop in a semiarid climate, should be terminated.

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