Spatiotemporal magnitudes and trends of cover-crop evapotranspiration in Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas

Vasudha Sharma, Suat Irmak

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2 Scopus citations


Although some benefits of growing cover crops have been recognized in agricultural production fields, wider adoption of these rotational crops requires quantitative information on actual evapotranspiration (ETa) in different climatic gradients, which is currently very limited. This study quantifies, maps, and evaluates the magnitudes and trends of cover-crop growing season (September-April) ETa in Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas during 2005-2016. Data sets from 76 weather stations in 3 states and representing 297 counties, comprising 559,360 km2 land area, are used to quantify and map spatial distribution of cover-crop growing season ETa, air temperature, and precipitation. Precipitation had a strong east-to-west decreasing trend; cover-crop growing season precipitation in the study region varied from 121 to 540 mm. Air temperature had a north-to-south increasing trend, with cover-crop growing season mean air temperature varying from -3°C to 16°C. Seasonal total ETa exhibited a southwest to northeast decreasing trend, ranging from 267 mm in Finney County in southwest Kansas to 148 mm in Floyd County in northeast Iowa, with a study region mean seasonal ETa of 207 mm. The highest monthly ETa was observed in September for all states, and minimum values were observed in December and March. These spatial maps of monthly cover-crop ETa are some of the first in the literature and can serve as an important tool for assessing the feasibility of growing cover crops in terms of water resources availability, use, planning, and management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04018040
JournalJournal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded and supported by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), National Conservation Innovation Grants Program under Project Number 69-3A75-12-207. As the project Principal Investigator, Dr. Irmak expresses his appreciation to the USDA-NRCS for collaboration and for providing financial support for this project. Dr. Irmak also expresses his appreciation to Roy Cast, David Cast, and Doug Cast in Beaver Crossing, Nebraska, for allowing these extensive projects to be conducted in their production fields and for their excellent collaboration. Dr. Irmak also thanks current and former Irmak Research Laboratory members for their help.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Society of Civil Engineers.


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