• Suboptimal Irrigation Strategies for Alfalfa in the Lower Colorado Region, 2009

      Ottman, Michael J.; Ottman, Michael J. (College of Agriculture, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 2010-09)
      Alfalfa has the highest water requirement of any crop grown in Arizona, and any strategies that conserve water growing this crop could have a large impact on water availability in the state. The purpose of this study is to determine yield and profitability of sub-optimal irrigation strategies in alfalfa. An irrigation study was conducted at the University of Arizona Maricopa Agricultural Center on a sandy clay loam soil. The following irrigation treatments are included in this study: 1) One irrigation per cutting, 2) Two irrigations per cutting, 3) Summer (August) irrigation termination, 4) Winter (December, January, February) irrigation termination, and 5) Summer and Winter irrigation termination. The Winter irrigation termination treatments were initiated in December 2009 and data is not available yet for these treatments. The amount of water applied from January through November 2009 was 69.7 inches (one irrigation per cut), 80.5 inches (two irrigations per cut), and 78.6 (Summer irrigation termination). The annual hay yields were 12.5 tons/acre (one irrigation per cut), 13.7 tons/acre (two irrigations per cut), and 12.9 tons/acre (Summer irrigation termination). Sub-optimal irrigation increased the forage quality by decreasing fiber (ADF and NDF) and increasing protein content. Sub-optimal irrigation did not reduce stand density. The water use efficiency of applied water (plus rainfall) was not affected by irrigation treatment.