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1 Effect of Shallow Groundwater Table on the Moisture Depletion Pattern in Crop Root Zone

Authors: Vijay Shankar

Abstract:

Different techniques for estimating seasonal water use from soil profile water depletion frequently do not account for flux below the root zone. Shallow water table contribution to supply crop water use may be important in arid and semi-arid regions. Development of predictive root uptake models, under influence of shallow water table makes it possible for planners to incorporate interaction between water table and root zone into design of irrigation projects. A model for obtaining soil moisture depletion from root zone and water movement below it is discussed with the objective to determine impact of shallow water table on seasonal moisture depletion patterns under water table depth variation, up to the bottom of root zone. The role of different boundary conditions has also been considered. Three crops: Wheat (Triticum aestivum), Corn (Zea mays) and Potato (Solanum tuberosum), common in arid & semi-arid regions, are chosen for the study. Using experimentally obtained soil moisture depletion values for potential soil moisture conditions, moisture depletion patterns using a non linear root uptake model have been obtained for different water table depths. Comparative analysis of the moisture depletion patterns under these conditions show a wide difference in percent depletion from different layers of root zone particularly top and bottom layers with middle layers showing insignificant variation in moisture depletion values. Moisture depletion in top layer, when the water table rises to root zone increases by 19.7%, 22.9% & 28.2%, whereas decrease in bottom layer is 68.8%, 61.6% & 64.9% in case of wheat, corn & potato respectively. The paper also discusses the causes and consequences of increase in moisture depletion from top layers and exceptionally high reduction in bottom layer, and the possible remedies for the same. The numerical model developed for the study can be used to help formulating irrigation strategies for areas where shallow groundwater of questionable quality is an option for crop production.

Keywords: irrigation, Moisture Depletion, crop root zone, ground water table

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