The main objective of the project is to develop an irrigation management scheme to help the farmers to irrigate several crops in competition on their farm when the amount of water available for irrigation is limited. This research implicates a very close relation between modelling and field experiments. The latter serves in validating the models. It is envisaged that the management will take account of the good economic performance of the cropping systems and the protection of the environment.
The project is to develop an irrigation management scheme to help farmers irrigate several crops in competition when the amount of water available is limited. The effect of water stress on different crops have been studied in various experiments carried out in France, Spain and Denmark on different crops (protein peas, lupin, soya bean, sunflower, sorghum, oilseed rape and maize). Several models concerning soil-water-plant relationships have been tested with experimental data in order to improve it. At least, interviews have been carried out with farmers in several regions to better understand their approach to irrigation management including constraints on water availability, labour, equipment and crops. The information obtained allows a rough model to be proposed. This is now used to make simulations.
The project includes two complementary procedures :
1. Establishment of models
Calender : It is a strategic model which takes into account the partitioning of the farm, the available materials, the labours working hours that is required for annual irrigation programme of the different crops, the crop rotation, the present knowledge in answering farmers queries, simulating different agro-climatological situations and field verification.
Pilotage : It is a tactical model that considers the vegetation development stage, the periods of annual rainfall, adaptation of MARKVAND model to manage several crops and field verification.
2. Soil-plant relationship research
Assessing the soil water availability for plants : (a) the existing soil water balance models will be compared and a suitable model(s) will be selected and adapted to meet the objectives of this project; (b) investigating the effect of soil tillage on soil water regime and plant growth under different agro-climatological conditions.
Studying the plant's response to water stress : (a) the effect of water stress on some plants is well understood but our knowledge needs to be extended to some others (e.g. peas, soybean, rape, sunflower, maize, etc.) with particular interest in those growing under considerable range of climatic conditions such as that between Spain and Denmark; (b) planning a strategy for irrigation of inter-cropping system : this strategy will take into account the constraints such as water flows, materials availability and the labours working hours on the farm.
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