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Journal of Arid Land  2022, Vol. 14 Issue (7): 787-810    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0022-z
Research article     
Effects of the growing-maize canopy and irrigation characteristics on the ability to funnel sprinkler water
ZHU Zhongrui1,2, ZHU Delan1,2,*(), GE Maosheng1,2, LIU Changxin3
1College of Water Resources and Architectural Engineering, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
2Key Laboratory of Agricultural Soil and Water Engineering in Arid and Semiarid Areas, Ministry of Education, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
3Breeding and Seed Production of Agricultural Crops of Tashkent State Agrarian University, Tashkent 100140, Uzbekistan
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Stemflow is vital for supplying water, fertilizer, and other crop essentials during sprinkler irrigation. Exploring the spatial and temporal variations of crop stemflow and its influencing factors will be essential to preventing soil water and nutrient ion's migration to deeper layers, developing, and optimizing effective sprinkler irrigation schedules. Based on the two-year experimental data, we analyzed the variation patterns (stemflow amount, depth, rate, and funneling ratio) of maize stemflow during the growing season, and clarified its vertical distribution pattern. Meanwhile, effects of sprinkler irrigation and maize morphological parameters on stemflow were investigated. The results showed that stemflow increased gradually as maize plant grew. Specifically, stemflow was small at the pre-jointing stage and reached the maximum at the late filling stage. The upper canopy generated more stemflow than the lower canopy until the flare opening stage. After the tasseling stage, the middle canopy generated more stemflow than the other positions. Variation in canopy closure at different positions was the main factor contributing to the above difference. As sprinkler intensity increased, stemflow also increased. However, the effect of droplet size on stemflow was inconsistent. Specifically, when sprinkler intensity was less than or equal to 10 mm/h, stemflow was generated with increasing droplet size. In contrast, if sprinkler intensity was greater than or equal to 20 mm/h, stemflow tended to decreased with increasing droplet size. Compared with other morphological parameters, canopy closure significantly affected the generation of stemflow. Funneling ratio was not significantly affected by plant morphology. Based on the results of different sprinkler intensities, we developed stemflow depth versus canopy closure and stemflow rate versus canopy closure power function regression models with a high predictive accuracy. The research findings will contribute to the understanding of the processes of stemflow involving the hydro-geochemical cycle of agro-ecosystems and the implementation of cropland management practices.

Key wordssprinkler intensity      droplet diameter      morphological parameter      stemflow      spatial-temporal variation     
Received: 25 February 2022      Published: 31 July 2022
Corresponding Authors: * ZHU Delan (E-mail:
Cite this article:

ZHU Zhongrui, ZHU Delan, GE Maosheng, LIU Changxin. Effects of the growing-maize canopy and irrigation characteristics on the ability to funnel sprinkler water. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(7): 787-810.

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Fig. S1 Basic structure of sprinkler unit (a) and needle spraying method (b)
Fig. S2 Adjustment of sprinkler water droplet diameter and needle installation height
Fig. S3 Drop size distribution among different treatments. Red filling represented the small diameter water droplets; cyan filling represented the medium diameter water droplets; yellow-green filling represented the large diameter water droplets. Less transparent filling represented the lighter sprinkler intensity. The detailed treatments can be found in Table 1.
Fig. S4 Spatial distribution of sprinkler water
Fig. 1 Arrangement of maize plant (a) and stemflow collection device (b) in the experiment
Fig. 2 Schematic diagram of the stemflow generation process (a) and collection device (b)
Fig. 3 Vertical layering of maize canopy across the micro-scale spatial scope
Different treatments Actual sprinkler intensity (mm/h) CU
Kev (J/(m2•mm)) SP
Droplet diameter (mm)
Droplet size Sprinkler intensity (mm/h) Abbre-
D25 D50 D75
Small diameter 10 DSI10 9.68±0.13 96.12 0.25±0.08 3.59±0.71 0.010±0.001 0.86±0.13 1.48±0.26 1.96±0.39
20 DSI20 20.17±2.01 95.16 0.56±0.11 4.99±0.53 0.028±0.005 0.79±0.09 1.49±0.19 1.99±0.44
30 DSI30 29.46±1.98 93.84 0.98±0.09 6.16±1.02 0.050±0.007 0.82±0.21 1.48±0.43 1.93±0.26
Medium diameter 10 DMI10 10.24±0.98 95.59 1.05±0.14 4.70±0.95 0.013±0.002 2.76±0.68 3.68±0.65 3.96±0.47
20 DMI20 19.86±1.59 93.48 1.61±0.25 6.12±0.57 0.034±0.008 2.83±0.79 3.65±0.49 3.98±0.88
30 DMI30 30.86±2.47 94.57 3.06±0.63 7.60±1.06 0.065±0.009 2.79±0.93 3.69±0.55 3.99±0.75
Large diameter 10 DLI10 11.31±2.02 93.41 1.59±0.23 8.13±0.99 0.026±0.005 6.65±1.59 7.11±0.98 7.86±1.12
20 DLI20 20.98±1.95 92.49 2.85±0.42 10.69±1.48 0.062±0.004 6.63±1.43 7.13±1.95 7.91±0.98
30 DLI30 32.49±2.69 89.19 4.69±0.18 11.49±0.95 0.104±0.008 6.51±1.79 7.08±1.36 7.88±1.25
Table 1 Physical characteristics of sprinkler water droplets
Fig. 4 Maize stemflow parameters at different growth stages in 2020 and 2021. (a), stemflow amount; (b), stemflow depth; (c), stemflow rate; (d), funneling ratio. JS, jointing stage; FOS, flare opening stage; TS, tasseling stage; FS, filling stage. Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences among different growth stages within the same year at P<0.05 level.
Fig. 5 Effects of maize canopies at different positions and growth stages on stemflow in 2020 (a) and 2021 (b)
Fig. 6 Effects of irrigation characteristics on maize stemflow in 2020 and 2021. (a and b), stemflow amount; (c and d), stemflow depth; (e and f), stemflow rate; (g and h), funneling ratio. Different lowercase letters within the same treatment indicate significant differences at P<0.05 level. The detailed treatments can be found in Table 1.
Plant morphological parameter Statistical result Streamflow variable
LAI R2 0.959 0.959 0.959 -0.048
P <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 >0.05
CC R2 0.982 0.982 0.982 0.074
P <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 >0.05
PH R2 0.951 0.951 0.948 0.084
P <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 >0.05
CT R2 0.933 0.933 0.93 0.045
P <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 >0.05
SD R2 0.839 0.839 0.841 -0.339
P <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 >0.05
LHD R2 0.368 0.368 0.376 -0.628
P >0.05 >0.05 >0.05 >0.05
LHDLL R2 0.847 0.847 0.852 -0.264
P <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 >0.05
LI R2 0.479 0.479 0.477 0.503
P >0.05 >0.05 >0.05 >0.05
LILL R2 -0.955 -0.955 -0.954 -0.357
P <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 >0.05
PEW R2 0.961 0.961 0.962 0.219
P <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 >0.05
PDW R2 0.847 0.847 0.850 0.234
P <0.01 <0.01 <0.01 >0.05
Table 2 Correlation between stemflow and plant morphological parameters
Fig. 7 Correlation among plant morphological parameters. *, P<0.05 level; **, P<0.01 level. The abbreviations are the same as in Table 2.
Sprinkler water physical feature Stemflow depth and rate Regression model R2 P
Sprinkler intensity
10 Sd:10 Sd:10=0.022×CC1.09 0.84 <0.01
SR10 SR10=0.200×CC1.11 0.92 <0.01
20 Sd:20 Sd:20=0.061×CC1.08 0.95 <0.01
SR10 SR10=0.300×CC1.08 0.94 <0.01
30 Sd:30 Sd:30=0.090×CC1.10 0.96 <0.01
SR30 SR30=0.291×CC1.10 0.94 <0.01
Droplet diameter
1.48 Sd:1.48 Sd:1.48=0.071×CC1.05 0.27 >0.05
SR1.48 SR1.48=0.335×CC1.05 0.69 >0.05
3.67 Sd:3.67 Sd:3.67=0.109×CC0.93 0.23 >0.05
SR3.67 SR3.67=0.335×CC1.05 0.69 >0.05
7.11 Sd:7.11 Sd:7.11=0.048×CC1.13 0.34 >0.05
SR7.11 SR7.11=0.226×CC1.12 0.88 <0.01
Table 3 Non-linear regression analysis between stemflow depth, rate and canopy closure
Fig. 8 Comparison between measured and predicted stemflow depth (a-c) and rate (d-f) at different sprinkler intensities. RMSE, root mean square error; NRMSE, standard root mean square error.
Table 4 Plant mopbologcal parametrs at dferent spatial positions and growth stages
Fig. 9 Schematic diagram of the effect of droplets with different sizes on stemflow channels on maize leaves. (a), small diameter water droplets; (b), medium diameter water droplets; (c), large diameter water droplets.
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