This study was conducted to investigate the effects of applied water and sprinkler irrigation uniformity on alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) growth and hay yield in a semi-arid region. Field experiments were carried out in 2006 in Varamin, Iran, on three plots of 25 m × 30 m. Each plot was subdivided into 25 subplots of 5 m × 6 m. Different irrigation depths and sprinkler water uniformities were obtained by various scenarios of sprinkler nozzle pressure. In each plot, applied water was measured at 250 points (125 points above and 125 points below canopy) and the soil water content of 40 cm deep below soil surface was monitored at 25 points, each in the center of a subplot, throughout the irrigation season. The results showed that sprinkler water and soil water content uniformity varied between 66-78 and 88-91%, respectively. The findings revealed that soil water content uniformity was around 20% higher than sprinkler water uniformity. The irrigation uniformity below the canopy was estimated to be 2.5% greater than above the canopy, and canopy-intercepted water could account for 11-15% of the total seasonal applied water. Evaluation showed that alfalfa leaf area index relies more heavily on farm water application uniformity than hay yield and crop height. The experimental results illustrated that water distribution in sprinkler irrigation systems has a direct effect on alfalfa growth, hay yield and water productivity such that the applied water reduction and the increased sprinkler water uniformity led to an increased alfalfa water productivity of 2.41 kg m-3.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by the University of Tehran through the research contract 7305002-1-04. The authors wish to thank the Deputy for Research of the University of Tehran for funding. The authors also express their sincere thanks to the anonymous reviewers for the many useful comments and suggestions.
- Canopy-intercepted water
- Irrigation depth
- Leaf area index
- Soil moisture content uniformity
- Solid set sprinkler system
- Water productivity