Distribution of rainfall and soil moisture content in the soil profile under citrus tree canopy and at the dripline

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Irrigation Science


The plant canopy intercepts rain and thus can alter the distribution of water under the canopy as compared to that along the dripline. The effects of a citrus (Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck) tree (25-year-old, Valencia orange) canopy on the distribution of rainfall and soil moisture content within the soil profile either along the dripline (D) or under the canopy near the trunk (inner side; I), and midway between I and Dripline (M) were evaluated, on the east and west sides of trees planted along north-south rows. Results of eleven storm events in 1995 (mean of east and west sides) revealed that the amounts of precipitation at the D, M, and I positions were 97-140, 47-94, and 52-79% of the incident rainfall, respectively. Thus, canopy interception of incident rainfall was quite appreciable. The soil moisture content was greater along the dripline compared to that at the M and I positions, particularly in the deeper (≥60 cm) soil profile. The water flux was significantly greater at the dripline than under the canopy indicating a greater leaching potential of soil-applied fertilizers and other chemicals when placed along the dripline. A substantial reduction in the rainfall and water flux under the canopy as a result of canopy interception suggests that application of fertilizer and chemicals under the canopy could minimize leaching losses.

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