CITA DGA

Zaragoza, Spain
Zaragoza, Spain

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Finn J.A.,Teagasc | Kirwan L.,Waterford Institute of Technology | Connolly J.,University College Dublin | Sebastia M.T.,University of Lleida | And 30 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2013

Summary: A coordinated continental-scale field experiment across 31 sites was used to compare the biomass yield of monocultures and four species mixtures associated with intensively managed agricultural grassland systems. To increase complementarity in resource use, each of the four species in the experimental design represented a distinct functional type derived from two levels of each of two functional traits, nitrogen acquisition (N2-fixing legume or nonfixing grass) crossed with temporal development (fast-establishing or temporally persistent). Relative abundances of the four functional types in mixtures were systematically varied at sowing to vary the evenness of the same four species in mixture communities at each site and sown at two levels of seed density. Across multiple years, the total yield (including weed biomass) of the mixtures exceeded that of the average monoculture in >97% of comparisons. It also exceeded that of the best monoculture (transgressive overyielding) in about 60% of sites, with a mean yield ratio of mixture to best-performing monoculture of 1·07 across all sites. Analyses based on yield of sown species only (excluding weed biomass) demonstrated considerably greater transgressive overyielding (significant at about 70% of sites, ratio of mixture to best-performing monoculture = 1·18). Mixtures maintained a resistance to weed invasion over at least 3 years. In mixtures, median values indicate <4% of weed biomass in total yield, whereas the median percentage of weeds in monocultures increased from 15% in year 1 to 32% in year 3. Within each year, there was a highly significant relationship (P < 0·0001) between sward evenness and the diversity effect (excess of mixture performance over that predicted from the monoculture performances of component species). At lower evenness values, increases in community evenness resulted in an increased diversity effect, but the diversity effect was not significantly different from the maximum diversity effect across a wide range of higher evenness values. The latter indicates the robustness of the diversity effect to changes in species' relative abundances. Across sites with three complete years of data (24 of the 31 sites), the effect of interactions between the fast-establishing and temporal persistent trait levels of temporal development was highly significant and comparable in magnitude to effects of interactions between N2-fixing and nonfixing trait levels of nitrogen acquisition. Synthesis and applications. The design of grassland mixtures is relevant to farm-level strategies to achieve sustainable intensification. Experimental evidence indicated significant yield benefits of four species agronomic mixtures which yielded more than the highest-yielding monoculture at most sites. The results are relevant for agricultural practice and show how grassland mixtures can be designed to improve resource complementarity, increase yields and reduce weed invasion. The yield benefits were robust to considerable changes in the relative proportions of the four species, which is extremely useful for practical management of grassland swards. The design of grassland mixtures is relevant to farm-level strategies to achieve sustainable intensification. Experimental evidence indicated significant yield benefits of four species agronomic mixtures which yielded more than the highest-yielding monoculture at most sites. The results are relevant for agricultural practice and show how grassland mixtures can be designed to improve resource complementarity, increase yields and reduce weed invasion. The yield benefits were robust to considerable changes in the relative proportions of the four species, which is extremely useful for practical management of grassland swards. © 2013 British Ecological Society.


Zapata N.,U.S. Department of Soil and Water | Chalgaf I.,CITA DGA | Nerilli E.,IAMB CIHEAM | Latorre B.,U.S. Department of Soil and Water | And 4 more authors.
Computers and Electronics in Agriculture | Year: 2012

This paper presents a real-time, on-farm irrigation scheduling software (RIDECO). The software was been designed for stone fruit orchards in the semiarid conditions of Spain. The characterization of stone fruit crop water requirements for the local conditions and under different irrigation strategies is presented. Meteorological data in the study area is collected daily from the SIAR public network of weather stations in an automated fashion. Subsequently, values of cumulative degree-days are computed to identify the stages of fruit growth and crop development. The software allows performing weekly irrigation schedules under standard, regulated deficit irrigation and water restriction conditions. The irrigation scheduling software stands as a valuable tool for on-farm water resources allocation planning. It can be used to forecast the irrigation water required to meet seasonal meteorological, agronomical and managerial scenarios in stone fruit orchards. RIDECO can also be used to plan deficit irrigation strategies in cases of severe water restrictions. The software can be parameterized to adjust to specific varieties and local farming conditions. A variety of graphs assist irrigation managers in their decisions. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Playan E.,EEAD CSIC | Salvador R.,EEAD CSIC | Lopez C.,EEAD CSIC | Lecina S.,CITA DGA | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering | Year: 2014

Farmers continue to show great differences in irrigation water use, even for a given location and crop. Irrigation advisory services have narrowed the gap between scientific knowledge and on-farm scheduling, but their success has been limited. The performance of sprinkler irrigation is greatly affected by factors such as wind speed, whose short-time variability requires tactical adjustments of the irrigation schedule. Mounting energy costs often require the consideration of interday and intraday tariff evolution. Opportunities have arisen that allow these challenges to be addressed through irrigation controllers guided by irrigation and crop simulation models. Remote control systems are often installed in collective pressurized irrigation networks. Agrometeorological information networks are available in regions worldwide. Water users' associations use specialized databases for water management. Different configurations of irrigation controllers based on simulation models can develop, continuously update, and execute irrigation schedules aiming at maximizing irrigation adequacy and water productivity. Bottlenecks requiring action in the fields of research, development, and innovation are analyzed, with the goal of establishing agendas leading to the implementation and commercial deployment of advanced controllers for solid-set irrigation. © 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers.


Zapata N.,EEAD CSIC | Nerilli E.,Instituto Agronomico Mediterraneo Of Bari | Martinez-Cob A.,EEAD CSIC | Chalghaf I.,CITA DGA | And 3 more authors.
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research | Year: 2013

Fruit production development is resulting in large commercial orchards with improved water management standards. While the agronomic and economic benefits of regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) have long been established, the local variability in soils and climate and the irrigation system design limits its practical applications. This paper uses a case study approach (a 225 ha stone fruit orchard) to unveil limitations derived from environmental spatial variability and irrigation performance. The spatial variability of soil physical parameters and meteorology in the orchard was characterized, and its implication on crop water requirements was established. Irrigation depths applied during 2004- 2009 were analysed and compared with crop water requirements under standard and RDI strategies. Plant water status was also measured during two irrigation seasons using stem water potential measurements. On-farm wind speed variability amounted to 55%, representing differences of 17% in reference evapotranspiration. During the study seasons, irrigation scheduling evolved towards deficit irrigation; however, the specific traits of RDI in stone fruits were not implemented. RDI implementation was limited by: 1) poor correspondence between environmental variability and irrigation system design; 2) insufficient information on RDI crop water requirements and its on-farm spatial variability within the farm; and 3) low control of the water distribution network.


Barros R.,CITA DGA | Isidoro D.,CITA DGA | Aragues R.,CITA DGA
Agricultural Water Management | Year: 2011

The analysis of long-term irrigation performance series is a valuable tool to improve irrigation management and efficiency. This work focuses in the assessment of irrigation performance indices along years 1995-2008, and the cause-effect relationships with irrigation modernization works taking place in the 4000. ha surface-irrigated La Violada Irrigation District (VID). Irrigation management was poor, as shown by the low mean seasonal irrigation consumptive use coefficient (ICUC. =51%) and the high relative water deficit (RWD. =20%) and drainage fraction (DRF. =54%). April had the poorest irrigation performance because corn (with low water demand in this month) was irrigated to promote its emergence, whereas winter grains (with high water demands in this month) were not fully irrigated in water-scarce years. Corn, highly sensitive to water stress, was the crop with best irrigation performance because it was preferentially irrigated to minimize yield losses. The construction of a new elevated canal that decreased seepage and drainage fractions, the entrance in operation of six internal reservoirs that would increase irrigation scheduling flexibility, and the on-going transformation from surface to sprinkler irrigation systems are critical changes in VID that should lead to improved ICUC, lower RWD and lower DRF. The implications of these modernization works on the conservation of water quantity and quality within and outside VID is further discussed. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

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