Irrigation performance and gross water productivity in furrow-irrigated ornamental tree production

In the ornamental plant production region of Girona (Spain), which is one of the largest of its kind in southern Europe, most of the surface is irrigated using wide blocked-end furrows. The objectives of this paper were: (1) to evaluate the irrigation scheduling methods used by ornamental plant producers; (2) to analyse different scenarios in order to assess how they affect irrigation performance; (3) to evaluate the risk of deep percolation; and (4) to calculate gross water productivity. A two-year study in a representative commercial field, planted with Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’, was carried out. The irrigation dose applied by the farmers was slightly smaller than the required water dose estimated by the use of two different methods: the first based on soil water content, and the second based on evapotranspiration. Distribution uniformity and application efficiency were high, with mean values above 87%. Soil water content measurements revealed that even at the end of the furrow, where the infiltrated water depth was greatest, more than 90% of the infiltrated water was retained in the shallowest 40 cm of the soil; accordingly, the risk of water loss due to deep percolation was minimal. Gross water productivity for ornamental tree production was € 11.70 m–3, approximately 20 times higher than that obtained with maize in the same region ​
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