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Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering >> 2017, Volume 4, Issue 2 doi: 10.15302/J-FASE-2017139

Long-term simulation of growth stage-based irrigation scheduling in maize under various water constraints in Colorado, USA

. Agronomy College, Qingdao Agricultural University, Qingdao 266109, China.. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China.. USDA-ARS, Rangeland Resources and Systems Research Unit, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA.. USDA-ARS, Agricultural Water Management and Systems Research Unit, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA.. USDA-ARS, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Ames, IA 50011, USA.. State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China

Accepted: 2017-03-23 Available online: 2017-06-07

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Due to varying crop responses to water stress at different growth stages, scheduling irrigation is a challenge for farmers, especially when water availability varies on a monthly, seasonal and yearly basis. The objective of this study was to optimize irrigation between the vegetative (V) and reproductive (R) phases of maize under different available water levels in Colorado. Long-term (1992–2013) scenarios simulated with the calibrated Root Zone Water Quality Model were designed to meet 40%–100% of crop evapotranspiration (ET) requirements at V and R phases, subject to seasonal water availabilities (300, 400, 500 mm, and no water limit), with and without monthly limits (total of 112 scenarios). The most suitable irrigation between V and R phases of maize was identified as 60/100, 80/100, and 100/100 of crop ET requirement for the 300, 400, 500 mm water available, respectively, based on the simulations from 1992 to 2013. When a monthly water limit was imposed, the corresponding suitable irrigation targets between V and R stages were 60/100, 100/100, and 100/100 of crop ET requirement for the above three seasonal water availabilities, respectively. Irrigation targets for producing higher crop yield with reduced risk of poor yield were discussed for projected five-year water availabilities.

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