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Analyzing Water Management and Production Trade-offs Using Crop Systems Models

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  5th National Decennial Irrigation Conference Proceedings, 5-8 December 2010, Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Arizona USA  IRR10-9783.(doi:10.13031/2013.35843)
Authors:   Kelly R Thorp, Douglas J Hunsaker, Andrew N French
Keywords:   crop model, water, irrigation, wheat, management, simulation, yield, water use efficiency

Water management decisions for agricultural cropping systems may be affected by multiple factors, including crop water needs, water availability, water delivery mechanisms, and water rights. A robust tool for improvement of on-farm water management must therefore provide information on crop water requirements as well as provide assessments of alternative water management scenarios for times when on-farm water supplies are inadequate. The objective of this research was to develop techniques for using a crop systems model to analyze the trade-offs between water management alternatives and crop production for wheat in central Arizona. The CSM-CROPSIM-CERES-Wheat model was fully evaluated using field data for wheat production during the winters of 2003-2004 and 2004-2005. The model was then extended to simulate the effects of various water management alternatives on wheat yield and water use characteristics. For a case study in which water supplies were assumed to be 12% lower than that required for optimum production, alternative water management approaches were able to achieve wheat yield simulations within 1% of the optimum. Results also demonstrate how crop systems models may be useful for managing water based on several different objectives, including water use efficiency, crop production, or economic return. Systems modeling approaches are essential for understanding the trade-offs that exist between agricultural crop production and environmental concerns.

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