Effects of Irrigation Method and Water Flow Rate on Irrigation Performance, Soil Salinity, Yield, and Water Productivity of Cauliflower
Water scarcity is a major constraint for food production, particularly in arid and semi-arid environments. In this regard, selecting the best irrigation technique is crucial to overcome water scarcity and enhance water productivity (WP) with no significant yield loss. This study aimed to assess the impact of irrigation techniques of every furrow irrigation (EFI), alternate furrow irrigation (AFI), and drip irrigation (DI), as well as the flow rate, on irrigation system performance parameters, yield, water productivity of cauliflower crop and soil salinity during the two successive growing seasons of 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 under field conditions. The treatments comprised three different irrigation inflow rates: Q1 = 0.47 L/s, Q2 = 0.95 L/s, and Q3 = 1.43 L/s. For both investigated seasons, the AFI + Q3 treatment produced the best water distribution uniformity (DU) and water application efficiency (AE) of 85.10% and 72.73%, respectively, of the surface irrigation, and DI methods across the two growing seasons produced the highest DU of 95%. DI produced the highest cauliflower curd yield (18.12 Mg/fed), followed by EFI + Q3 (12.285 Mg/fed) and AFI + Q3 (11.905 Mg/fed). The maximum mean WP value of 10.6 kg/m3 was recorded with DI, followed by AFI + Q3 (6.24 kg/m3), across the two growing seasons. DI, AFI + Q3, AFI + Q2, AFI + Q1, EFI + Q3, and EFI + Q2 saved irrigation water by 32.63, 28.71, 21.22, 18.04, 10.48, and 3.18%, respectively, compared with EFI + Q1 across the two growing seasons. During both seasons, the average value using the drip irrigation system was 3.60 dS/m. Considering the annual leaching requirements of soil, climate change conditions, and fixed costs, we recommend the use of a drip irrigation system in clayey soil to produce cauliflower, followed by the use of the alternative furrow irrigation method to enable the aeration of the same soil for a lower cost.