Effects of soil water availability on water fluxes in winter wheat

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Gaochao Cai1, Jan Vanderborght1, Matthias Langensiepen2 and Harry Vereecken1, (1)Agrosphere Institute (IBG-3) Forschungszentrum Jülich, Deutschland, Germany, (2)University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
Quantifying soil water availability in water-limited ecosystems on plant water use continues to be a practical problem in agronomy. Transpiration which represents plant water demand is closely in relation to root water uptake in the root zone and sap flow in plant stems. However, few studies have been concentrated on influences of soil moisture on root water uptake and sap flow in crops. This study was undertaken to investigate (i) whether root water uptake and sap flow correlate with the transpiration estimated by the Penman-Monteith model for winter wheat(Triticum aestivum), and (ii) for which soil water potentials in the root zone, the root water uptake and sap flow rates in crop stems would be reduced. Therefore, we measured sap flow velocities by an improved heat-balance approach (Langensiepen et al., 2014), calculated crop transpiration by Penman-Monteith model, and simulated root water uptake by HYDRUS-1D on an hourly scale for different soil water status in winter wheat. In order to assess the effects of soil water potential on root water uptake and sap flow, an average soil water potential was calculated by weighting the soil water potential at a certain depth with the root length density. The temporal evolution of root length density was measured using horizontal rhizotubes that were installed at different depths.The results showed that root water uptake and sap flow matched well with the computed transpiration by Penman-Monteith model in winter wheat when the soil water potential was not limiting root water uptake. However, low soil water content restrained root water uptake, especially when soil water potential was lower than -90 kPa in the top soil. Sap flow in wheat was not affected by the observed soil water conditions, suggesting that stomatal conductance was not sensitive to soil water potentials. The effect of drought stress on root water uptake and sap flow in winter wheat was only investigated in a short time (after anthesis). Further research could focus on a long time (e.g. from vegetation to maturity) effect under different soil water conditions, such as irrigated, sheltered and normal status.

Langensiepen, M., Kupisch, M., Graf, A., Schmidt, M. and Ewert, F., 2014. Improving the stem heat balance method for determining sap-flow in wheat. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 186: 34-42.