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Journal of Arid Land
Research Articles     
Quantifying the impacts of soil water stress on the winter wheat growth in an arid region, Xinjiang
ChengYi ZHAO, Yu SHENG, Yilihm·Yimam
Key Laboratory of Oasis Ecology and Desert Environment, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China
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Abstract  Wheat growth in response to soil water deficit play an important role in yield stability. A field experiment was conducted for winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) during the period of 2002–2005 to evaluate the effects of limited irrigation on winter wheat growth. 80%, 70%, 60%, 50% and 40% of field capacity was applied at different stages of crop growth. Photosynthetic characteristics of winter wheat, such as photosynthesis rate, transpiration rate, stomatal conductance, photosynthetically active radiation, and soil water content, root and shoot dry mass accumulation were measured, and the root water uptake and water balance in different layer were calculated. Based on the theory of unsaturated dynamic, a one-dimensional numerical model was developed to simulate the effect of soil water movement on winter wheat growth using Hydrus-1 D. The soil water content of stratified soil in the experimental plot was calculated under deficit irrigation. The results showed that, in different growing periods, evapotranspiration, grain yield, biomass, root water uptake, water use efficiency, and photosynthetic characteristics depended on the controlled ranges of soil water content. Grain yield response to irrigation varied considerably due to differences in soil moisture contents and irrigation scheduling between seasons. Evapotranspiration was largest in the high soil moisture treatment, and so was the biomass, but this treatment did not produce the highest grain yield and root water uptake was relatively low. Maximum depth of root water uptake is from the upper 80 cm in soil profile in jointing stage and dropped rapidly upper 40 cm after heading stage, and the velocity of root water uptake in latter stage was less than that in middle stage. The effect of limited irrigation treatment on photosynthesis was complex owing to microclimate. But root water uptake increased linearly with harvest yield and improvement in the latter gave better root water uptake under limited irrigation conditions. Appropriately controlled soil water contents can improve the root water uptake and grain yield. Consistently high values of root water uptake and grain yield were produced under conditions of mild water deficit at the seedling and start of regrowth to stem-elongation stages, in addition to a further soil water depletion at the physiological maturity to harvest stage. We suggest that periods of mild soil water depletion in the early vegetative growth period together with severe soil water depletion in the maturity stage of winter wheat is an optimum for limited irrigation regime in this oasis. Considerable potential for further improvement in agricultural water use efficiency in the arid zone depends on effective conservation of moisture and efficient use of the limited water.

Received: 17 September 2009      Published: 09 November 2009
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ChengYi ZHAO, Yu SHENG, Yilihm·Yimam. Quantifying the impacts of soil water stress on the winter wheat growth in an arid region, Xinjiang. Journal of Arid Land, 2009, 1(1): 34-42.

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