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The use of infrared thermometry for irrigation scheduling of cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) and annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.)

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Limited water supplies are available to satisfy the increasing demands of crop production. It is therefore very important to conserve the water, which comes as rainfall, and water, which is used in irrigation. A proper irrigation water management system requires accurate, simple, automated, non-destructive method to schedule irrigations. Utilization of infrared thermometry to assess plant water stress provides a rapid, nondestructive, reliable estimate of plant water status which would be amenable to larger scale applications and would over-reach some of the sampling problems associated with point measurements. Several indices have been developed to time irrigation. The most useful is the crop water stress index (CWSI), which normalizes canopy to aIr temperature differential measurements, to atmospheric water vapour pressure deficit. A field experiment was conducted at Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to determine the non-water-stressed baselines, and CWSI of cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) from 22 July to 26 September 2002, and aImual (Italian) ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) from October 8 to December 4, 2002, when the crops completely covered the soil. An accurate measurement of canopy to air temperature differential is crucial for the determination of CWSI using the empirical (Idso et al., 1981) and theoretical (Jackson et al., 1981) methods. Calibrations of infrared thermometers, a Vaisala CS500 air temperature and relative humidity sensor and thermocouples were performed, and the reliability of the measured weather data were analysed. The Everest and Apogee infrared thermometers require correction for temperatures less than 15 QC and greater than 35 QC. Although the calibration relationships were highly linearly significant the slopes and intercepts should be corrected for greater accuracy. Since the slopes of the thermocouples and Vaisala CS500 air temperature sensor were statistically different from 1, multipliers were used to correct the readings. The relative humidity sensor needs to be calibrated for RH values less than 25 % and greater than 75 %. The integrity of weather data showed that solar irradiance, net irradiance, wind speed and vapour pressure deficit were measured accurately. Calculated soil heat flux was underestimated and the calculated surface temperature was underestimated for most of the experimental period compared to measured canopy temperature. The CWSI was determined using the empirical and theoretical methods. An investigation was made to determine if the CWSI could be used to schedule irrigation in cereal rye and annual rye grass to prevent water stress. Both the empirical and theoretical methods require an estimate or measurement of the canopy to air temperature differential, the non-waterstressed baseline, and the non-transpiring canopy to air temperature differential. The upper (stressed) and lower (non- stressed) baselines were calculated to quantify and monitor crop water stress for cereal rye and annual ryegrass. The non-water-stressed baselines were described by the linear equations Te - Ta = 2.0404 - 2.0424 * VPD for cereal rye and Te - Ta = 2.7377 - 1.2524 * VP D for annual ryegrass. The theoretical CWSI was greater than the empirical CWSI for most of the experimental days for both cereal rye and annual ryegrass. Variability of empirical (CWSI)E and theoretical (CWSI)T values followed soil water content as would be expected. The CWSI values responded predictably to rainfall and irrigation. CWSI values of 0.24 for cereal rye and 0.29 for annual ryegrass were found from this study, which can be used for timing irrigations to alleviate water stress and avoid excess irrigation water. The non-water-stressed baseline can also be used alone if the aim of the irrigator is to obtain maximum yields. However the non-water-stressed baseline determined using the empirical method cannot be applied to another location and is only valid for clear sky conditions. And the non-water-stressed baseline determined using theoretical method requires computation of aerodynamic resistance and canopy resistances, as the knowledge of canopy resistance, however the values it can assume throughout the day is still scarce. The baseline was then determined using a new method by Alves and Pereira (2000), which overcomes these problems. This method evaluated the infrared surface temperature as a wet bulb temperature for cereal rye and annual ryegrass. From this study, it is concluded that the infrared surface temperature of fully irrigated cereal rye and annual ryegrass can be regarded as a surface wet bulb temperature. The value of infrared surface temperature can be computed from measured or estimated values of net irradiance, aerodynamic resistance and air temperature. The non-water-stressed baseline is a useful concept that can effectively guide the irrigator to obtain maximum yields and to schedule irrigation. Surface temperature can be used to monitor the crop water status at any time of the day even on cloudy days, which may greatly ease the task of the irrigator.


Thesis (M.Sc.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2003


Irrigation scheduling., Crops and water., Rye--Irrigation., Ryegrass--Irrigation., Theses--Agrometeorology.