B. van Wesemael
- Water availability in almond orchards on marl soils in southeast Spain: The role of evaporation and runoff
- Journal of Arid Environments
- Volume | Issue number
- 72 | 12
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Clean sweeping (i.e., frequent and shallow tillage in orchards) is a common practice in semi-arid areas. A potential drawback in dry areas is that the tree roots cannot access the water in the plough layer. Our objective was to quantify the loss of water by evaporation and the loss or gain by overland flow in almond (Prunus dulcis Mill.) orchards on loamy soils in southeast Spain. The evaporation from a 15 cm plough layer equals 70-104% of annual precipitation, taking into account losses or gains by overland flow. The large evaporation explains the low canopy cover observed, which averaged 3.2%. The runoff coefficient of the test sites is 1-6%. There is no drainage below 15cm during dry years, except for an area that receives a net influx of overland flow. The trunk basal area in this depression is 12% larger compared to the rest of the field. The options for increasing the water intake of the trees are to reduce the tillage depth or to switch from clean sweeping to no-tillage combined with chemical weeding.
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