Irrigation Management

The Snider Cotton Physiology Lab has also focused on the use of novel irrigation scheduling strategies that maximize resource use efficiency and productivity for producers.

Specifically, the lab has defined predawn leaf water potential thresholds that:

  1. maximized yield, optimized water use efficiency, and
  2. ensured the highest net returns for the grower.

We also developed a canopy temperature-based crop water stress index that was highly correlated with more labor-intensive water potential measurements, and he led a multi-national effort to utilize remotely-sensed data to detect crop water status variation at the field scale using a combination of manual plant water status assessments and remotely-sensed estimates of canopy temperature and crop canopy development.

Additionally, the cotton physiology team reported that over-irrigated plants exhibited high rates of biomass production, but harvest index was substantially reduced due to reductions in the number of bolls retained per plant, making reduced harvest index the primary contributor to yield loss caused by water excess. Current efforts are exploring interactions between growth management practices and crop response to irrigation.

Drought stressed and well-watered cotton plots equipped with proximal, infrared canopy temperature sensors [Image Credit: Calvin Perry].