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Sustainability (Switzerland)


Pakistan is facing severe water shortages, so using the available water efficiently is essential for maximizing crop production. This can be achieved through efficient irrigation practices. Field studies were carried out to determine the dynamics of soil water and the efficiency of water utilization for maize grown under five irrigation techniques (flood-irrigated flatbed, furrow-irrigated ridge, furrow-irrigated raised bed, furrow-irrigated raised bed with plastic mulch, and sprinkler-irrigated flatbed). Spring and summer maize was grown for two years. The Irrigation Management System (IManSys) was used to estimate the irrigation requirements, evapotranspiration, and other water balance components for this study’s different experimental treatments based on site-specific crop, soil, and weather parameters. The results showed that the flood irrigation flatbed (FIF) treatment produced the highest evapotranspiration, leaf area index (LAI), and biomass yield compared to other treatments. However, this treatment did not produce the highest grain yield and had the lowest water use efficiency (WUE) and irrigation water use efficiency (WUEi ) compared to the furrow-irrigated raised-bed treatment. The furrow-irrigated raised bed with plastic mulch (FIRBM) treatment improved grain yield, WUE, WUEi, and harvest index compared to the flood irrigation flatbed (FIF) treatment. The results showed a strong correlation between measured and estimated net irrigation requirements and evapotranspiration, with high r2 values (0.93, 0.99, 0.98, and 0.98) for the spring-and summer-sown maize. It was concluded that the FIRBM treatments improved the grain yield, WUE, and WUEi, which ultimately enhanced sustainable crop production. The growing of summer-sown maize in Pakistan has the potential for sustainable maize production under the semiarid and arid climate.

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