Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Use and Irrigation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020) | Viewed by 64699

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Guest Editor
Andalusian Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training (IFAPA), Granada, Spain
Interests: water stress; crop physiology; deficit-irrigation strategies; crop-water monitoring; soil conservation; conservation agriculture
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Guest Editor
Andalusian Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training (IFAPA), Granada, Spain
Interests: water stress; crop physiology; deficit-irrigation strategies; crop-water monitoring; soil conservation; conservation agriculture
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to present this Special Issue focused on the most remarkable research experiences about water use efficiency in agriculture, specially under semi-arid conditions and Climate Change scenarios.

Water scarcity is the most limiting constraint in agriculture, together with the soil degradation and the imbalance between sustainability, competitiveness and food demand. In this agreement it is worth to deepen about those strategies and production systems able to reach competitive yields, enhancing the quality of products, preserving the food security, and all of them, within an equilibrium in environmental terms.

Implementing new tools to assess the crop water status, monitoring the continuous soil-plant-atmosphere system, or integrating information systems based on big-data and smart farming tools will reinforce the actual knowledge to offer an appropriate response to the actual challenges to achieve a higher water use efficiency in irrigated and rainfed systems. Moreover, the introduction of resilient crops to water scarcity scenarios or the strengthening of sustainable practices of water resources management will enhance the consolidation of rural population, the agricultural competitiveness and the environmental sustainability.

Dr. Ivan Francisco Garcia Tejero
Dr. Victor Hugo Durán-Zuazo
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • deficit-irrigation
  • crop-water requirements
  • smart farming
  • crop-production functions
  • food quality
  • remote sensing
  • crop physiological response to drought scenarios

Published Papers (20 papers)

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Editorial

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6 pages, 273 KiB  
Editorial
Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Agricultural Development
by Iván Francisco García-Tejero and Víctor Hugo Durán-Zuazo
Agronomy 2022, 12(8), 1806; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12081806 - 30 Jul 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1794
Abstract
The rising shortage of water resources worldwide in crop-producing regions and the need for irrigation optimisation call for sustainable water savings. That is, the allocation of irrigation water will be an ever-increasing source of pressure because of vast agricultural demands under changing climatic [...] Read more.
The rising shortage of water resources worldwide in crop-producing regions and the need for irrigation optimisation call for sustainable water savings. That is, the allocation of irrigation water will be an ever-increasing source of pressure because of vast agricultural demands under changing climatic conditions. Consequently, irrigation has to be closely linked with water-use efficiency with the aim of boosting productivity and improving food quality, singularly in those regions where problems of water shortages or collection and delivery are widespread. The present Special Issue (SI) contains 19 original contributions addressing water-use efficiency under challenging topic of sustainable irrigation management to meet water scarcity conditions. These papers cover a wide range of subjects, including (i) interaction mineral nutrition and irrigation in horticultural crops, (ii) sustainable irrigation in woody fruit crops, (iii) medicinal plants, (iv) industrial crops, and (v) others devoted to remote sensing techniques and crop water requirements, genotypes for drought tolerance, and agricultural management platform. The studies have been carried out in both field and laboratory surveys, as well as modelling studies, and a wide range of geographic regions are also covered. The collection of these manuscripts presented in this SI updates and provides a relevant knowledge contribution for efficient saving water resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

18 pages, 9156 KiB  
Article
Crop Water Requirements and Suitability Assessment in Arid Environments: A New Approach
by Abdelrazek Elnashar, Mohamed Abbas, Hassan Sobhy and Mohamed Shahba
Agronomy 2021, 11(2), 260; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11020260 - 30 Jan 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3930
Abstract
Efficient land and water management require the accurate selection of suitable crops that are compatible with soil and crop water requirements (CWR) in a given area. In this study, twenty soil profiles are collected to represent the soils of the study area. Physical [...] Read more.
Efficient land and water management require the accurate selection of suitable crops that are compatible with soil and crop water requirements (CWR) in a given area. In this study, twenty soil profiles are collected to represent the soils of the study area. Physical and chemical properties of soil, in addition to irrigation water quality, provided data are utilized by the Agriculture Land Evaluation System for Arid and semi-arid regions (ALES-Arid) to determine crop suitability. University of Idaho Ref-ET software is used to calculate CWR from weather data while the Surface Energy Balance Algorithms for Land Model (SEBAL) is utilized to estimate CWR from remote sensing data. The obtained results show that seasonal weather-based CWR of the most suitable field crops (S1 and S2 classes) ranges from 804 to 1625 mm for wheat and berssem, respectively, and ranges from 778 to 993 mm in the vegetable crops potato and watermelon, respectively, under surface irrigation. Mean daily satellite-based CWR are predicted based on SEBAL ranges between 4.79 and 3.62 mm in Toshka and Abu Simbel areas respectively. This study provides a new approach for coupling ALES-Arid, Ref-ET and SEBAL models to facilitate the selection of suitable crops and offers an excellent source for predicting CWR in arid environments. The findings of this research will help in managing the future marginal land reclamation projects in arid and semi-arid areas of the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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23 pages, 4873 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Potassium Fertilization and Irrigation on the Yield and Health Status of Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.)
by Bożena Bogucka, Agnieszka Pszczółkowska, Adam Okorski and Krzysztof Jankowski
Agronomy 2021, 11(2), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11020234 - 27 Jan 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2877
Abstract
The objective of this study was to determine the effects of potassium fertilization (applied to soil at 150, 250, and 350 kg K2O ha−1) and irrigation on the yield (fresh matter yield and dry matter yield of above-ground biomass [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to determine the effects of potassium fertilization (applied to soil at 150, 250, and 350 kg K2O ha−1) and irrigation on the yield (fresh matter yield and dry matter yield of above-ground biomass and tubers) and the health status of tubers and leaves of three Jerusalem artichoke—JA (Helianthus tuberosus L.) cultivars (Topstar, Violette de Rennes, Waldspindel). The Topstar cultivar was characterized by the highest total tuber yield (60.53 Mg FM ha−1) and the highest above-ground biomass yield (65.74 Mg FM ha−1). An increase in the rate of potassium fertilizer to 350 kg K2O ha−1 did not affect total tuber yields. The greatest increase in above-ground biomass yields was observed in response to the potassium fertilizer rate of 150 kg K2O ha −1 (64.40 Mg FM ha−1). Irrigation increased tuber yields by 59% and above-ground biomass yields by 42% on average. Phytopathological analyses revealed that JA leaves were most frequently colonized by fungi of the genera Alternaria, Fusarium, and Epicoccum. Alternaria and Fusarium fungi were more prevalent in non-irrigated than in irrigated plots. A higher number of fungal pathogens was isolated from the leaves of cv. Violette de Rennes grown in a non-irrigated plot fertilized with 250 kg K2O ha−1. Tubers were most heavily colonized by fungi of the genera Penicillium, Fusarium, Alternaria, Botrytis, and Rhizopus. Fungal species of the genus Fusarium were isolated from tubers in all irrigated treatments, and they were less frequently identified in non-irrigated plots. Only the tubers of cv. Topstar grown in non-irrigated plots and supplied with 150 kg K2O ha−1 were free of Fusarium fungi. The number of cultures of pathogenic species isolated from Jerusalem artichoke tubers had a minor negative impact on fresh and dry matter yield. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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15 pages, 1513 KiB  
Article
Effect of Deficit Irrigation and Reduced N Fertilization on Plant Growth, Root Morphology and Water Use Efficiency of Tomato Grown in Soilless Culture
by Ikram Ullah, Hanping Mao, Ghulam Rasool, Hongyan Gao, Qaiser Javed, Abid Sarwar and Muhammad Imran Khan
Agronomy 2021, 11(2), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11020228 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 3795
Abstract
This study was conducted to investigate the effects of various irrigation water (W) and nitrogen (N) levels on growth, root-shoot morphology, yield, and irrigation water use efficiency of greenhouse tomatoes in spring–summer and fall–winter. The experiment consisted of three irrigation water levels (W: [...] Read more.
This study was conducted to investigate the effects of various irrigation water (W) and nitrogen (N) levels on growth, root-shoot morphology, yield, and irrigation water use efficiency of greenhouse tomatoes in spring–summer and fall–winter. The experiment consisted of three irrigation water levels (W: 100% of crop evapotranspiration (ETc), 80%, and 60% of full irrigation) and three N application levels (N: 100%, 75%, and 50% of the standard nitrogen concentration in Hoagland’s solution treatments equivalent to 15, 11.25, 7.5 mM). All the growth parameters of tomato significantly decreased (p < 0.05) with the decrease in the amount of irrigation and nitrogen application. Results depicted that a slight decrease in irrigation and an increase in N supply improved average root diameter, total root length, and root surface area, while the interaction was observed non-significant at average diameter of roots. Compared to the control, W80 N100 was statistically non-significant in photosynthesis and stomatal conductance. The W80 N100 resulted in a yield decrease of 2.90% and 8.75% but increased irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE) by 21.40% and 14.06%. Among interactions, the reduction in a single factor at W80 N100 and W100 N75 compensated the growth and yield. Hence, W80 N100 was found to be optimal regarding yield and IWUE, with 80% of irrigation water and 15 mM of N fertilization for soilless tomato production in greenhouses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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20 pages, 12931 KiB  
Article
Improving Water Use Efficiency by Optimizing the Root Distribution Patterns under Varying Drip Emitter Density and Drought Stress for Cherry Tomato
by Abdul Shabbir, Hanping Mao, Ikram Ullah, Noman Ali Buttar, Muhammad Ajmal and Kashif Ali Solangi
Agronomy 2021, 11(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11010003 - 22 Dec 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3307
Abstract
The spatial distribution of root systems in the soil has major impacts on soil water and nutrient uptake and ultimately crop yield. This research aimed to optimize the root distribution patterns, growth, and yield of cherry tomato by using a number of emitters [...] Read more.
The spatial distribution of root systems in the soil has major impacts on soil water and nutrient uptake and ultimately crop yield. This research aimed to optimize the root distribution patterns, growth, and yield of cherry tomato by using a number of emitters per plant. A randomized complete block design technique was adopted by selecting eight treatments with two irrigation regimes and four levels of emitters under greenhouse conditions. The experiment results showed that the root distribution extended over the entire pot horizontally and shifted vertically upwards with increased emitter density. The deficit irrigation resulted in reduced horizontal root extension and shifted the root concentrations deeper. Notably, tomato plants with two emitters per plant and deficit irrigation treatment showed an optimal root distribution compared to the other treatments, showing wider and deeper dispersion measurements and higher root length density and root weight density through the soil with the highest benefit–cost ratio (1.3 and 1.1 cm cm−3, 89.8 and 77.7 µg cm−3, and 4.20 and 4.24 during spring–summer and fall-winter cropping seasons, respectively). The increases in yield and water use efficiency (due to increased yield) were 19% and 18.8%, respectively, for spring–summer cropping season and 11.5% and 11.8%, respectively, for fall–winter cropping season, with two emitters per plant over a single emitter. The decrease in yield was 5.3% and 4%, and increase in water use efficiency (due to deficit irrigation) was 26.2% and 27.9% for spring-summer and fall-winter cropping seasons, respectively, by deficit irrigation over full irrigation. Moreover, it was observed that two, three, and four emitters per plant had no significant effects on yield and water use efficiency. Thus, it was concluded that two emitters per plant with deficit irrigation is optimum under greenhouse conditions for the cultivation of potted cherry tomatoes, considering the root morphology, root distribution, dry matter production, yield, water use efficiency, and economic analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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23 pages, 4320 KiB  
Article
Morphological, Physiological, and Biochemical Impacts of Different Levels of Long-Term Water Deficit Stress on Linum album Ky. ex Boiss. Accessions
by Reza Kiani, Vahideh Nazeri, Majid Shokrpour and Christophe Hano
Agronomy 2020, 10(12), 1966; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10121966 - 14 Dec 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2367
Abstract
Linum album (Ky. ex Boiss.) is an important medicinal plant that produces compounds such as the well-known anticancer lignan podophyllotoxin and fatty acids. Despite its high medicinal value, it has not yet been studied in detail under agricultural conditions. This study was conducted [...] Read more.
Linum album (Ky. ex Boiss.) is an important medicinal plant that produces compounds such as the well-known anticancer lignan podophyllotoxin and fatty acids. Despite its high medicinal value, it has not yet been studied in detail under agricultural conditions. This study was conducted to evaluate the morphological, phenological, and physiological responses of six L. album accessions under different levels of water deficit treatments (100%, 75%, 50%, and 25% available water) in pot conditions. Based on the results, some of the morphological characteristics of the response to water deficit were established. Accessions UTLA7, UTLA9, and UTLA10 showed a higher seed yield and dry weight of the vegetative part. There was a substantial difference in the occurrence of phenological stages in the accessions. The maturation process was accelerated in plants under stress conditions, and accession UTLA9 completed its complete growth cycle faster than the other accessions. The physiological responses of the different accessions did not show the same pattern on the basis of the characteristics studied, and significant differences were observed depending on the trait and accession. Among the most important results of this study was the diversity of responses in different accessions. Based on these results, it is recommended that morphological features (such as seed yield per plant, plant height, number of inflorescences per plant, shoot and root dry weight) be used to select tolerant accessions for the desired product. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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25 pages, 3370 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Soil Water Content Measurements with Capacitance Probes to Support Irrigation Scheduling in a “Red Beaut” Japanese Plum Orchard
by Sandra Millán, Carlos Campillo, Antonio Vivas, María José Moñino and Maria Henar Prieto
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1757; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111757 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2186
Abstract
Advances in electromagnetic sensor technologies in recent years have made automated irrigation scheduling a reality through the use of state-of-the-art soil moisture sensing devices. However, correct sensor positioning and interpretation of the measurements are key to the successful implementation of these management systems. [...] Read more.
Advances in electromagnetic sensor technologies in recent years have made automated irrigation scheduling a reality through the use of state-of-the-art soil moisture sensing devices. However, correct sensor positioning and interpretation of the measurements are key to the successful implementation of these management systems. The aim of this study is to establish guidelines for soil moisture sensor placement to support irrigation scheduling, taking into account the physiological response of the plant. The experimental work was carried out in Vegas Bajas del Guadiana (Extremadura, Spain) on a drip-irrigated experimental orchard of the early-maturing Japanese plum cultivar “Red Beaut”. Two irrigation treatments were established: control and drying. The control treatment was scheduled to cover crop water needs. In the drying treatment, the fruit trees were irrigated as in control, except in certain periods (preharvest and postharvest) in which irrigation was suspended (drying cycles). Over 3 years (2015–2017), a series of plant parameters were analyzed in relation to the measurements provided by a battery of frequency domain reflectometry probes installed in different positions with respect to tree and dripper: midday stem water potential (Ψstem), sap flow, leaf stomatal conductance, net leaf photosynthesis and daily fraction of intercepted photosynthetically active radiation. After making a comparison of these measurements as indicators of plant water status, Ψstem was found to be the physiological parameter that detected water stress earliest. The drying cycles were very useful to select the probe positions that provided the best information for irrigation management and to establish a threshold in the different phases of the crop below which detrimental effects could be caused to the crop. With respect to the probes located closest to the drippers, a drop in the relative soil water content (RSWC) below 0.2 would not be advisable for “non-stress” scheduling in the preharvest period. When no deficit irrigation strategies are applied in the postharvest period, the criteria are similar to those of preharvest. However, the probes located between the dripper at 0.15 and 0.30 m depth provide information on moderate water stress if the RSWC values falls below 0.2. The severe tree water stress was detected below 0.1 RSWC in probes located at 60 cm depth from this same position. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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13 pages, 5316 KiB  
Article
Physiological Responses of Apple and Cherry In Vitro Culture under Different Levels of Drought Stress
by Zuzana Kovalikova, Petra Jiroutova, Jakub Toman, Dominika Dobrovolna and Lenka Drbohlavova
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1689; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111689 - 30 Oct 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2931
Abstract
Drought stress is a serious threat. Therefore, improvements in crop productivity under conditions of limited water availability are vital to keep global food security. Apples and cherries belong to the most produced fruit worldwide. Thus, searching for their tolerant or resistant cultivars is [...] Read more.
Drought stress is a serious threat. Therefore, improvements in crop productivity under conditions of limited water availability are vital to keep global food security. Apples and cherries belong to the most produced fruit worldwide. Thus, searching for their tolerant or resistant cultivars is beneficial for crop breeders to produce more resistant plants. We studied five apple (“Malinové holovouské”, “Fragrance”, “Rubinstep”, “Idared”, “Car Alexander”) and five cherry (“Regina”, “Napoleonova”, “Kaštánka”, “Sunburst”, “P-HL-C”) cultivars for their adaptation in response to progressive drought stress. The reaction of an in vitro culture to osmotic stress simulated by increasing polyethylene glycol (PEG) concentration in medium was evaluated through the morphological (fresh and dry weight, water content, leaf area), physiological (chlorophyll and carotenoids content), and biochemical (reactive oxygen species and malondialdehyde content) parameters. Drought-like stress negatively affected the water content, leaf areas, and chlorophyll content in both fruit species. Oxidative status and membrane damage of plants under water deficiency conditions occurred to be important indicators of stress tolerance mechanism. Cherries exhibited higher hydrogen peroxide levels compared to apples, whereas their malondialdehyde values were generally lower. The overall results indicated wide tolerance range to water deficit among apple and cherry in vitro culture as well as among cultivars within single plant species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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15 pages, 1141 KiB  
Article
Effects of Drip Irrigation Emitter Density with Various Irrigation Levels on Physiological Parameters, Root, Yield, and Quality of Cherry Tomato
by Abdul Shabbir, Hanping Mao, Ikram Ullah, Noman Ali Buttar, Muhammad Ajmal and Imran Ali Lakhiar
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1685; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111685 - 30 Oct 2020
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 3882
Abstract
Root morphology and its components’ behavior could show a considerable response under multiple water application points per plant to help the ultimate effect of fruit yield and fruit quality. In this study, a comparison of a single emitter per plant was made with [...] Read more.
Root morphology and its components’ behavior could show a considerable response under multiple water application points per plant to help the ultimate effect of fruit yield and fruit quality. In this study, a comparison of a single emitter per plant was made with two, three, and four emitters per plant under drip irrigation and two irrigation levels (full irrigation 100% and deficit irrigation 75% of crop evapotranspiration) to investigate their effects on physiological parameters, root, yield, and their associated components for potted cherry tomato under greenhouse conditions in Jiangsu-China. The experimental results showed that the plants cultivated in the spring-summer planting season showed significantly higher results than the fall-winter planting season due to low temperatures in the fall-winter planting season. However, the response root length, root average diameter, root dry mass, leaf area index, photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate, fruit unit fresh weight, the number of fruits, and pH were increased by multiple emitters per plant over a single emitter per plant, but total soluble solids decreased. Besides, a decreasing trend was observed by deficit irrigation for both planting seasons, and vice versa for the case for tomato total soluble solids. Due to an increase in measured parameters for multiple emitters per plant over a single emitter per plant, the yield, water use efficiency, and water use efficiency biomass significantly increased by 18.1%, 17.6%, and 15.1%, respectively. The deficit irrigation caused a decrease in the yield of 5% and an increase in water use efficiency and water use efficiency biomass of 21.4% and 22.9%, respectively. Two, three, and four emitters per plant had no significant effects, and the obtained results were similar. Considering the root morphology, yield, water use efficiency, water use efficiency biomass, and fruit geometry and quality, two emitters per plant with deficit irrigation are recommended for potted cherry tomato under greenhouse conditions. The explanation for the increased biomass production of the plant, yield, and water use efficiency is that two emitters per plant (increased emitter density) reduced drought stress to the roots, causing increased root morphology and leaf area index and finally promoting the plant’s photosynthetic activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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21 pages, 1667 KiB  
Article
Deficit Irrigation and Its Implications for HydroSOStainable Almond Production
by Iván Francisco García-Tejero, Leontina Lipan, Saray Gutiérrez-Gordillo, Víctor Hugo Durán Zuazo, I. Jančo, F. Hernández, Belén Cárceles Rodríguez and Ángel Antonio Carbonell-Barrachina
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1632; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111632 - 23 Oct 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2924
Abstract
Deficit irrigation (DI) strategies are considered essential in many arid and semi-arid areas of Mediterranean countries for proper water management under drought conditions. This fact is even more necessary in crops such as almond (Prunus dulcis Mill.), which in the last recent [...] Read more.
Deficit irrigation (DI) strategies are considered essential in many arid and semi-arid areas of Mediterranean countries for proper water management under drought conditions. This fact is even more necessary in crops such as almond (Prunus dulcis Mill.), which in the last recent years has been progressively introduced in irrigated areas. An essential aspect to be considered would be the ability to improve fruit-quality parameters when DI strategies are imposed, which can boost the final almond price and ensure the sustainability and competitiveness of this crop. This work examines the effects of sustained deficit irrigation (SDI) on three almond cultivars (Marta, Guara, and Lauranne) on parameters related to almond functionality, aroma and sensory profile, which consequently influence its marketability and consumers acceptance. SDI strategies allowed the improvement of physical parameters such as unit weight, kernel length, kernel thickness or color. Moreover, higher total phenolic compounds, organic acids and sugars were found in SDI almonds. Finally, the highest concentrations of volatile compounds were obtained under SDI, this being a clear advantage in relation to almond flavor. Thus, moderate SDI strategy offered relevant improvements in parameters regarding the marketability, by enhancing the final added value of hydroSOStainable almonds with respect to those cultivated under full irrigation conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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15 pages, 1033 KiB  
Article
Screening of Popcorn Genotypes for Drought Tolerance Using Canonical Correlations
by Samuel Henrique Kamphorst, Gabriel Moreno Bernardo Gonçalves, Antônio Teixeira do Amaral Júnior, Valter Jário de Lima, Jhean Torres Leite, Kátia Fabiane Medeiros Schmitt, Divino Rosa dos Santos Junior, Juliana Saltires Santos, Fábio Tomaz de Oliveira, Caio Cézar Guedes Corrêa, Weverton Pereira Rodrigues and Eliemar Campostrini
Agronomy 2020, 10(10), 1519; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10101519 - 6 Oct 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3038
Abstract
Getting around the damage caused by drought is a worldwide challenge, particularly in Brazil, given that economy is based on agricultural activities, including popcorn growing. The purpose of this study was to evaluate popcorn inbred lines under water stressed (WS) and well-watered (WW) [...] Read more.
Getting around the damage caused by drought is a worldwide challenge, particularly in Brazil, given that economy is based on agricultural activities, including popcorn growing. The purpose of this study was to evaluate popcorn inbred lines under water stressed (WS) and well-watered (WW) conditions regarding agronomic attributes, root morphology, and leaf “greenness” index (SPAD index), besides investigating the viability of indirect selection by canonical correlations (CC) of grain yield (GY) and popping expansion (PE). Seven agronomic, six morphological root traits were evaluated and SPAD index at five different dates during grain filling. The WS (−29% less water than WW) affected significantly the GY (−55%), PE (−28%), increased the brace and crown root density, and more vertically oriented the brace and crown angles. Higher SPAD index is associated with a higher yield, and these measures were the only ones with no significant genotype × water condition interaction, which may render concomitant selection for WS and WW easier. For associating the corrections of the different traits, CC proved to have better potential than simple correlations. Thus, the evaluation of SPAD index at 29 days after the anthesis showed the best CC, and based on the previous results of SPAD index, may be used regardless of the water condition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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22 pages, 3827 KiB  
Article
Long-Term Correlation between Water Deficit and Quality Markers in HydroSOStainable Almonds
by Leontina Lipan, Marina Cano-Lamadrid, Francisca Hernández, Esther Sendra, Mireia Corell, Laura Vázquez-Araújo, Alfonso Moriana and Ángel A. Carbonell-Barrachina
Agronomy 2020, 10(10), 1470; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10101470 - 25 Sep 2020
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 2737
Abstract
Global warming enhances the rainfall and temperature irregularity, producing a collapse in water resources and generating an urgent need for hydro-sustainable thinking in agriculture. The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between the water stress of almond trees and quality [...] Read more.
Global warming enhances the rainfall and temperature irregularity, producing a collapse in water resources and generating an urgent need for hydro-sustainable thinking in agriculture. The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between the water stress of almond trees and quality parameters of fruits, after 3 years of experiments, with the objective of establishing quality markers necessary in the certification process of hydroSOStainable almonds. The results showed positive correlations among the stress integral (SI) and dry weight, color coordinates (L*, a* and b*), minerals (K, Fe, and Zn), organic acids (citric acid), sugars (sucrose, fructose, and total sugars), antioxidant activity, and fatty acids [linoleic acid, polyunsaturated (PUFA)/monounsaturated (MUFA) ratio, PUFA and SFA, among others]. As well as negative correlations of SI with water activity, weight (almond, kernel, and shell), kernel size, minerals (Ca and Mg), fatty acids (oleic acid, oleic/linoleic ratio, MUFA, and PUFA/SFA ratio), and sensory attributes (size, bitterness, astringency, benzaldehyde, and woody). Finally, this research helped to prove key quality parameters that can be used as makers of hydroSOStainable almonds. In addition, it was demonstrated that controlling water stress in almond trees by using deficit irrigation strategies can lead to appropriate yields, improve the product quality, and consequently, lead to a final added value. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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20 pages, 1086 KiB  
Article
Maize Hybrid Response to Sustained Moderate Drought Stress Reveals Clues for Improved Management
by Samadangla Ao, Michael P. Russelle, Gary W. Feyereisen, Tamás Varga and Jeffrey A. Coulter
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1374; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091374 - 12 Sep 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2128
Abstract
Crop water productivity (CWP), irrigation water productivity (IWP), actual seasonal basal crop coefficient (Kab), and actual crop evapotranspiration (ETa) are essential parameters for accurate estimation of crop water requirement to prevent irrigation water waste. These parameters were evaluated by [...] Read more.
Crop water productivity (CWP), irrigation water productivity (IWP), actual seasonal basal crop coefficient (Kab), and actual crop evapotranspiration (ETa) are essential parameters for accurate estimation of crop water requirement to prevent irrigation water waste. These parameters were evaluated by conducting three experiments using a drought-tolerant maize hybrid and a non-drought-tolerant (‘standard’) maize hybrid receiving 50, 100, and 150% of the recommended optimal nitrogen (N) fertilizer rate and grown under well-watered conditions, drought stress from the 14 leaf collar maize phenological stage (V14) to maize physiological maturity (R6), and drought stress from the blister maize phenological stage (R2) to R6. Across hybrids, ETa decreased with increased duration of drought stress. The drought-tolerant hybrid had 7 and 8% greater CWP and IWP, respectively, compared to the standard hybrid when drought stress began at V14. Mid-season Kab was 1.08, 0.89, and 0.73 under well-watered conditions and when drought stress began at R2 and V14, respectively. These results reveal that (i) maize achieved more effective physiological acclimation with earlier exposure to drought stress, (ii) grain yield of the drought-tolerant hybrid was unchanged by earlier, compared to later, onset of drought despite a 10% decrease in ETa, and (iii) two phases of acclimation were identified: Maize Kab declined upon exposure to drought but stabilized as the crop acclimated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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23 pages, 15908 KiB  
Article
Designing of an Enterprise Resource Planning for the Optimal Management of Agricultural Plots Regarding Quality and Environmental Requirements
by Damián Aguilar Morales, Paola Sánchez-Bravo, Leontina Lipan, Marina Cano-Lamadrid, Hanán Issa-Issa, Francisco J. del Campo-Gomis and David B. López Lluch
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1352; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091352 - 8 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3629
Abstract
One of the main current problems in European quality agricultural production is the lack of objective data for linking quality to origin and to evidence environmental concern (CO2 uptake and use of water in Spain). The aim of this study was to [...] Read more.
One of the main current problems in European quality agricultural production is the lack of objective data for linking quality to origin and to evidence environmental concern (CO2 uptake and use of water in Spain). The aim of this study was to develop an agricultural management platform, based on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) principles and with the ability to collect geolocated information from different plots related to Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) wine production. First a survey to farmers, technicians and PDO and PGI managers was carried out to detect the needs of the three groups in relation to ERP platforms; and secondly an ERP platform was developed to collect agronomic information to comply with the Spanish legal requirements. Results showed that the end user completes information database, complies with the legal requirements, and obtains benefits derived from the data analysis. Consequently, the platform (i) solves lack of agricultural data problem; (ii) provides the user with management tools for its agricultural operations; (iii) allows the decision maker to obtain geolocated information in real time; and (iv) sets out the bases for the future development of agricultural systems based on Big Data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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19 pages, 3360 KiB  
Article
Regulation of Agronomic Traits, Nutrient Uptake, Osmolytes and Antioxidants of Maize as Influenced by Exogenous Potassium Silicate under Deficit Irrigation and Semiarid Conditions
by Mohamed F. M. Ibrahim, Gomaa Abd El-Samad, Hatem Ashour, Ahmed M. El-Sawy, Mohamed Hikal, Amr Elkelish, Hany Abd El-Gawad, Ahmed Abou El-Yazied, Wael N. Hozzein and Reham Farag
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1212; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081212 - 18 Aug 2020
Cited by 37 | Viewed by 4010
Abstract
Understanding the link between the protective role of potassium silicate (K2SiO3) against water shortage and the eventual grain yield of maize plants is still limited under semiarid conditions. Therefore, in this study, we provide insights into the underlying metabolic [...] Read more.
Understanding the link between the protective role of potassium silicate (K2SiO3) against water shortage and the eventual grain yield of maize plants is still limited under semiarid conditions. Therefore, in this study, we provide insights into the underlying metabolic responses, mineral nutrients uptake and some nonenzymatic and enzymatic antioxidants that may differ in maize plants as influenced by the foliar application of K2SiO3 (0, 1 and 2 mM) under three drip irrigation regimes (100, 75 and 50% of water requirements). Our results indicated that, generally, plants were affected by both moderate and severe deficit irrigation levels. Deficit irrigation decreased shoot dry weight, root dry weight, leaf area index (LAI), relative water content (RWC), N, P, K, Ca, Fe, Zn, carotenoids, grain yield and its parameters, while root/shoot ratio, malondialdehyde (MDA), proline, soluble sugars, ascorbic acid, soluble phenols, peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT), polyphenol oxidase (PPO), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) were improved. The foliar applications of K2SiO3 relatively alleviated water stress-induced damage. In this respect, the treatment of 2 mM K2SiO3 was more effective than others and could be recommended to mitigate the effect of deficit irrigation on maize plants. Moreover, correlation analysis revealed a close link between yield and the most studied traits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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15 pages, 2353 KiB  
Article
Cultivar Dependent Impact on Yield and Its Components of Young Almond Trees under Sustained-Deficit Irrigation in Semi-Arid Environments
by Saray Gutiérrez-Gordillo, Víctor Hugo Durán Zuazo, Virginia Hernández-Santana, Fernando Ferrera Gil, Amelia García Escalera, José Juan Amores-Agüera and Iván Francisco García-Tejero
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 733; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050733 - 20 May 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3318
Abstract
Almond (Prunus dulcis Mill. (D.A. Webb)) plantations in irrigated semi-arid areas need to successfully face the new scenarios of climate change combining sustainable irrigation strategies and tolerant cultivars to water stress. This work examines the response of young almond (cvs. [...] Read more.
Almond (Prunus dulcis Mill. (D.A. Webb)) plantations in irrigated semi-arid areas need to successfully face the new scenarios of climate change combining sustainable irrigation strategies and tolerant cultivars to water stress. This work examines the response of young almond (cvs. Guara, Marta, and Lauranne) subjected to different irrigation doses under semi-arid conditions (South-West Spain). The trial was conducted during two seasons (2018–2019) with three irrigation strategies: A full-irrigated treatment (FI), which received 100% of the irrigation requirements (IR), and two sustained-deficit irrigation strategies that received 75% (SDI75) and 65% (SDI65) of IR. Crop water status was assessed by leaf water potential (Ψleaf) and stomatal conductance (gs) measurements, determining the yield response at the end of each season. Different physiological responses for the studied cultivars were observed, especially considering the Ψleaf measurements. In this way, cv. Marta behaved more tolerant, while cvs. Guara and Lauranne maintained higher gs rates in response to water stress. These differences were also observed in terms of yield. The cv. Lauranne did not reflect yield losses, and the opposite trend was observed for cv. Guara, in which reductions on fruit numbers per tree were detected. On overall, effective irrigation water savings (≈2100 m3·ha−1 in SDI65) could be feasible, although these responses are going to be substantially different, depending on the used cultivar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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8 pages, 1335 KiB  
Communication
Initial Experimental Experience with a Sprayable Biodegradable Polymer Membrane (SBPM) Technology in Cotton
by Michael V. Braunack, Raju Adhikari, George Freischmidt, Priscilla Johnston, Philip S. Casey, Yusong Wang, Keith L. Bristow, Lana Filipović and Vilim Filipović
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 584; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040584 - 19 Apr 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3776
Abstract
Preformed biodegradable and next generation sprayable biodegradable polymer membrane (SBPM) formulations, which biodegrade to non-harmful products (water, carbon dioxide and microbial biomass), have been introduced as an alternative to plastic mulch films in order to mitigate plastic pollution of the environment. In this [...] Read more.
Preformed biodegradable and next generation sprayable biodegradable polymer membrane (SBPM) formulations, which biodegrade to non-harmful products (water, carbon dioxide and microbial biomass), have been introduced as an alternative to plastic mulch films in order to mitigate plastic pollution of the environment. In this preliminary field study on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), a novel SBPM technology was compared to preformed slotted oxo-degradable plastic (ODP) mulch film and no mulch control (CON) in terms of yield, crop water productivity (CWP), and soil temperature. The first results showed higher CWP and crop yield, and increased soil water content under the SBPM cover. This study indicates that SBPM technology could perform at similar level as ODP or comparable films under field conditions and, at the same time, provide environmentally sustainable agricultural cropping practices. Additionally, the fully treated, non-replicated SBPM plot had a wetter soil profile throughout the entire crop season. This innovative technology has shown a high potential even at this early stage of development, indicating that advances in formulation and further testing can lead to significant improvements and thus increased use in crop production systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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12 pages, 3673 KiB  
Article
Determination of Adequate Substrate Water Content for Mass Production of a High Value-Added Medicinal Plant, Crepidiastrum denticulatum (Houtt.) Pak & Kawano
by Song-Yi Park, Jongyun Kim and Myung-Min Oh
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 388; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030388 - 12 Mar 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2539
Abstract
The effects of substrate water content on the growth and content of bioactive compounds in Crepidiastrum denticulatum were evaluated. Three-week-old seedlings were subjected to four levels of substrate water content (20%, 30%, 45% and 60%) and maintained for 5 weeks. Growth parameters at [...] Read more.
The effects of substrate water content on the growth and content of bioactive compounds in Crepidiastrum denticulatum were evaluated. Three-week-old seedlings were subjected to four levels of substrate water content (20%, 30%, 45% and 60%) and maintained for 5 weeks. Growth parameters at 5 weeks of transplanting were significantly higher with the 45% substrate water content treatment than with the other treatments. In addition, photosynthetic rate, stomatal conductance and transpiration rate increased significantly and the highest sap flow rate during the day was observed in 45% substrate water content. Total phenolic content and antioxidant capacity per shoot increased significantly with substrate water content, increasing from 20% to 45% and decreased again at 60%. Antioxidant capacity and total hydroxycinnamic acids (HCAs) content per unit dry weight of plants under the 60% treatment were significantly higher than those under the 45% treatment; however, their content per shoot was the highest under the 45% treatment. Thus, 45% substrate water content is a suitable condition for the growth of C. denticulatum and had positive effects on phenolic content, antioxidant capacity, and HCAs content. These results could be useful for the mass production of high-quality C. denticulatum in greenhouses or plant factories capable of controlling the water content of the root zone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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14 pages, 1723 KiB  
Article
Growth Response of Cassava to Deficit Irrigation and Potassium Fertigation during the Early Growth Phase
by Daniel O. Wasonga, Jouko Kleemola, Laura Alakukku and Pirjo S.A. Mäkelä
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 321; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030321 - 26 Feb 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 4920
Abstract
Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) experiences intermittent water deficit and suffers from potassium (K) deficiency that seriously constrains its yield in the tropics. Currently, the interaction effect between deficit irrigation and K fertigation on growth and yield of cassava is unknown, especially during [...] Read more.
Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) experiences intermittent water deficit and suffers from potassium (K) deficiency that seriously constrains its yield in the tropics. Currently, the interaction effect between deficit irrigation and K fertigation on growth and yield of cassava is unknown, especially during the early growth phase. Therefore, pot experiments were conducted under controlled greenhouse conditions using cassava cuttings. Treatments initiated at 30 days after planting included three irrigation doses (30%, 60%, 100% pot capacity) and five K (0.01, 1, 4, 16, and 32 mM) concentrations. The plants were harvested 90 days after planting. Decreasing irrigation dose to 30% together with 16 mM K lowered the leaf water potential by 69%, leaf osmotic potential by 41%, photosynthesis by 35%, stomatal conductance by 41%, water usage by 50%, leaf area by 17%, and whole-plant dry mass by 41%, compared with full-irrigated plants. Lowering the K concentration below 16 mM reduced the values further. Notably, growth and yield were decreased the least compared with optimal, when irrigation dose was decreased to 60% together with 16 mM K. The results demonstrate that deficit irrigation strategies could be utilized to develop management practices to improve cassava productivity by means of K fertigation under low moisture conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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18 pages, 2495 KiB  
Article
Absence of Yield Reduction after Controlled Water Stress during Prehaverst Period in Table OliveTrees
by María José Martín-Palomo, Mireia Corell, Ignacio Girón, Luis Andreu, Alejandro Galindo, Ana Centeno, David Pérez-López and Alfonso Moriana
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020258 - 11 Feb 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3278
Abstract
Deficit irrigation scheduling is becoming increasingly important under commercial conditions. Water status measurement is a useful tool in these conditions. However, the information about water stress levels for olive trees is scarce. The aim of this experiment was to evaluate the effect on [...] Read more.
Deficit irrigation scheduling is becoming increasingly important under commercial conditions. Water status measurement is a useful tool in these conditions. However, the information about water stress levels for olive trees is scarce. The aim of this experiment was to evaluate the effect on yield of a moderate controlled water stress level at the end of the irrigation season. The experiment was conducted in the experimental farm of La Hampa (Coria del Río, Seville, Spain) during three years. A completely randomized block design was performed using three different irrigation treatments. Deficit irrigation was applied several (4 or 2) weeks before harvest. Irrigation was controlled using the midday stem water potential, with a threshold value of −2 MPa and compared with a full irrigated treatment. This water stress did not reduced gas exchange during the deficit period. The effect on yield was not significant in any of the three seasons. In the high-fruit load season, fruit volume was slightly affected (around 10%), but this was not significant at harvest. Results suggest an early affection of fruit growth with water stress, but with a slow rate of decrease. Moderate water stress could be useful for the management of deficit irrigation in table olive trees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Plant Water Use Efficiency for a Sustainable Environment)
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