Agriculture is the primary consumer of water and is likely to encounter the most severe threats due to water scarcity.
Any shortage of this critical natural resource puts farmers’ livelihood in jeopardy.
At the same time, demographic shifts, economic development and lifestyle changes are expected to intensify the competition between agriculture and other uses of water, including municipal and industrial uses.
Long-term imbalances in supply and demand for irrigation water are expected to intensify as limited and unequally distributed rainfall follows a declining trend, whereas mean temperature increases.
Knowing water requirements for crops and animals is advisable for farmers to better prepare for farm planning, droughts, and upgrading water infrastructure.
Estimating crop water needs are pre-requisites for implementing adaptation strategies and agricultural water management in general.
1.1. Transpiration, Evaporation and Evapotranspiration of Crops
1.2. Water Needs of Crops
1.3. Water Needs of Irrigation
Crops need water for transpiration and evaporation
Mainly three (3) factors influence crop water needs:
The principal climatic factors which influence the crop water needs are solar radiation, temperature, humidity, and windspeed (fig. 2). Their effects on the crop’s water needs are shown in this table:
|Climatic Factor||Crop water need|
|Solar radiation||Sun||No Sun|
|Humidity||Low (Dry)||High (Humid)|
Water needs for a specific crop in a specific location vary significantly depending on spatial and temporal variations in evapotranspiration and net water requirements.
From the previous, it is clear that evapotranspiration of a specific crop (and thus its water needs) is sensitive to climatic change in different regions due to variations in radiation, temperature, windspeed and humidity. For example, a specific citrus tree variety grown in a cool climate will need less water per day than the same citrus tree variety grown in a hotter climate.
For more efficient water management, it is helpful to take a particular standard crop or reference crop and determine how much water this crop needs per day in the various climatic regions.
Crop type has an influence on the crop water needs concerning:
A fully grown crop will need more water than a plant crop that has just been planted (fig. 3).
Crop water needed at planting and during the initial stage is estimated at 50 per cent of the crop water needed during the mid-season stage when the crop is fully developed. Regarding the late-season stage, which is the period during which the crop matures and is harvested, the water needs are diversified accordingly to:
Assume the water need of a particular crop in a very hot, dry climate is 15 mm/day. This means that the crop needs a water layer of 15 mm over the whole area on which the crop is grown (fig. 4). It does not mean that this 15 mm has to be indeed supplied by rain or irrigation every day.
For example, the crop could be provided with irrigated water, with 60 mm every four days. The irrigation water will then be stored in the root zone and gradually be used by the crop: 15mm for every day, given that irrigation water will not be lost due to leaching, runoff or evaporation.
Without water, crops cannot grow. The most well-known source of water for plant growth is rainwater. But, what to do if there is too little rainwater?
If there is too little rain, then irrigation is needed to supplement the extra water needs
The two Factors which Determine The Amount Of Irrigation Water which is needed are:
The Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) has developed an essential tool for Cypriot farmers who want to know monthly water needs for their cultivations in different locations of Cyprus Farming Land. Further details can be found in the link below:
Christou, A., Dalias, P. and Neocleous, D. 2017. Spatial and temporal variations in evapotranspiration and net water requirements of typical Mediterranean crops on the island of Cyprus. Journal of Agricultural Science, 155, 1311-1323
Dalias, P., Christou, A. and Neocleous, D. 2018. Adjustment of Irrigation Schedules as a Strategy to Mitigate Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture in Cyprus. Agriculture 9,4.
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