Studies on irrigation scheduling for soybean have demonstrated that avoiding irrigation during the vegetative growth stages could result in yields as high as those obtained if the crop was fully irrigated during the entire growing season. This could ultimately also lead to an improvement of the irrigation water use efficiency. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of different irrigation regimes (IRs) on growth and yield of four soybean genotypes and to determine their irrigation water use efficiency. A field experiment consisting of three IR using a lateral move sprinkler system and four soybean genotypes was conducted at the Bledsoe Research Farm of The University of Georgia, USA. The irrigation treatments consisted of full season irrigated (FSI), start irrigation at flowering (SIF), and rainfed (RFD); the soybean genotypes represented maturity groups (MGs) V, VI, VII, and VIII. A completely randomized block design in a split-plot array with four replicates was used with IR as the main treatment and the soybean MGs as the sub-treatment. Weather variables and soil moisture were recorded with an automatic weather station located nearby, while rainfall and irrigation amounts were recorded with rain gauges located in the experimental field. Samplings for growth analysis of the plant and its components as well as leaf area index (LAI) and canopy height were obtained every 12 days. The irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE) or ratio of the difference between irrigated and rainfed yield to the amount of irrigation water applied was estimated. The results showed significant differences (P < 0.05) between IR for dry matter of the plant and its components, canopy height, and maximum leaf area index as well as significant differences (P < 0.05) between MGs due to IR. Differences for the interaction between IR and MG were significant (P < 0.05) only for dry matter of pods and seed yield. In general, seed yield increased at a rate of 7.20 kg for each mm of total water received (rainfall + irrigation) by the crop. Within IR, significant differences (P < 0.05) on IWUE were found between maturity groups with values as low as 0.55 kg m-3 for MG V and as high as 1.14 kg m-3 for MG VI for the FSI treatment and values as low as 0.48 kg m-3 for maturity group V and as high as 1.02 kg m-3 for maturity group VI for the SIF treatment. We also found that there were genotypic differences with respect to their efficiency to use water, stressing the importance of cultivar selection as a key strategy for achieving optimum yields with reduced use of water in supplemental irrigation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was conducted under the auspices of the Southeast Climate Consortium (SECC; www.SEClimate.org ) and supported by a partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture-Risk Management Agency (USDA-RMA), by grants from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Climate Program Office (NOAA-CPO) and USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Services (USDA-CSREES) and by State and Federal funds allocated to Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations Hatch project GEO01654.
- Glycine max (L.) Merr.
- Irrigation scheduling
- Water use efficiency