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Technical Note: The Effects of Irrigation on Wheat Yield on a Global Scale

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

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 29(3): 335-342. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Zhenguo Zhao, Xiuqiao Huang, Jianxin Xu
Keywords:   Irrigation on wheat yield Water management Water scarcity.
<italic>Abstract. </italic>

The agricultural sector will face a great challenge to feed an increasing world population with less available irrigation water. A systematic analysis on irrigation-yield relationship combining large scales with local details is necessary, but such analysis remains rare. In this article, we address the irrigation-yield relation for wheat with a GEPIC model on a global scale with spatial resolution of 30 arc-minutes. Wheat yield is simulated in each grid cell under conditions without irrigation water supply and with irrigation supply of 100, 200, 300, and 400 mm/yr. The results indicate that Northwest Africa, Russia+Central Asia, and North America have a high dependence on irrigation to achieve high wheat yield because wheat is extensively planted in areas with low annual precipitation. Our results also show the required irrigation supply is much lower to maximize irrigation water productivity than to maximize crop yield. This study provides water managers useful information on formulating appropriate irrigation development strategies for local water and food security.

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