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Soybean Irrigation Initiation in Mississippi: Yield, Soil Moisture, and Economic Response

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

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 35(1): 39-50. (doi: 10.13031/aea.12883) @2019
Authors:   H. C. Pringle, III, L. L. Falconer, D. K. Fisher, L. J. Krutz
Keywords:   Irrigation initiation, Irrigation scheduling, Soil water deficit, Soil water potential, Soybean, Water conservation.

Abstract. Irrigated acreage is expanding and groundwater supplies are decreasing in the Mississippi Delta. Efficient irrigation scheduling of soybean [ (L.) Merr] will aid in conservation efforts to sustain groundwater resources. The objective of this study was to develop irrigation initiation recommendations for soybean grown on Mississippi Delta soils. Field studies were conducted on a deep silty clay (SiC) in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 and on a deep silty clay loam (SiCL) and deep silt loam (SiL) or loam (L) soil in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Irrigation was initiated multiple times during the growing season and soybean yield and net return were determined to evaluate the effectiveness of each initiation timing. Growth stage, soil water potential (SWP), and soil water deficit (SWD) were compared at these initiation timings to determine which parameter or combination of parameters consistently predicted the resulting greatest yields and net returns. Stress conditions that reduce yield can occur at any time from late vegetative stages to full seed on these deep soils. The wide range of trigger values found for SWP and SWD to increase yields in different years emphasizes the complexity of irrigation scheduling. Monitoring soil moisture by itself or use of a single trigger value is not sufficient to optimize irrigation scheduling to maximize soybean yield with the least amount of water every year on these soils. Monitoring one or more parameters (e.g., leaf water potential, canopy temperature, air temperature, humidity, solar radiation, and wind) is needed in conjunction with soil moisture to directly or indirectly quantify the abiotic stresses on the plant to better define when a yield reducing stress is occurring.

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