Assessing the Impact of Irrigation Management Strategies on Yield and Nitrate Leaching in Upland Cotton Production
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AbstractAlthough the cost for water is one of the largest expenditures in a grower's budget, many growers still over -irrigate their fields to assure that there will be no yield losses. Although these over -irrigations usually do not cause any negative effect to the crop, they can cause the loss of available nitrogen to the plant and the potential of nitrate contamination of groundwater resources. To assess what impact over-irrigation may have on yield and the potential for groundwater contamination, a drainage lysimeter study was initiated at the Maricopa Agricultural Center, Maricopa Arizona. Drainage lysimeters are large steel boxes with the tops open. In this study, three lysimeters were installed. The lysimeters were 80" wide (two row widths), five feet long, and six feet deep. They were placed 18 inches below the soil surface and filled with soil as to best represent the soil in its natural condition. On April 10, cotton was dry planted and watered up. Throughout the season, water samples were taken from the lysimeters and from suction lysimeters placed in the field. Nitrogen applications were made according to field conditions and weekly petiole sampling. Irrigations were made according to field conditions and using the AZSCHED irrigation scheduling program. Treatment one was irrigated according to the schedule and amount recommended by AZSCHED. In treatment two, the timing was the same as treatment one, but the amount applied was 0.25 times more. Treatment three was also irrigated at the same time but with 0.5 times more water. Yield samples were taken at the end of the season and showed no significant differences between treatments, with yields averaging about 1100 lbs /acre of lint. The drainage amounts ranged from 4" in treatment three to 1.5 inches in treatment one. The corresponding nitrate -N losses were 33 lbs/acre for treatment three and 20 lbs/acre for treatment one. Monitoring will continue over the winter to assess the impact of winter rainfall.
Series/Report no.Series P-103