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Severe irrigation restrictions due to drought would threaten almond plantations (JANUARY 11, 2022)

Titre : Severe irrigation restrictions due to drought would threaten almond plantations

In Spain, the drought between 1991 and 1995 led to restrictions in the allocation of water for crops and cuts in supplies. What would have happened at that time to the intensive, irrigated almond plantations that have been planted in Spain for more than a decade ? (JANUARY 11, 2022)

These plantations, planted on productive soils featuring high tree density, continuous irrigation, and the use of fertilizers, occupy 140,000 hectares in the country―326% more than in 2015 according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Therefore, knowing what would happen to them if a drought situation such as that of the 1990s arose is crucial to enable both regulatory agencies and the agricultural community to make evidence-based decisions.

The experimental plantation featured a 7 x 6 m frame and trees of the Guara variety (very commonly used) established in 2009 at IFAPA—Alameda del Obispo. In it, three different irrigation treatments were compared in 2017 : full irrigation for the crop’s maximum evapotranspiration (as a control group, since it is the irrigation method that had been applied throughout the plantation in previous years) ; deficit irrigation, applying 25% of the maximum that would be required ; and the complete suspension of irrigation throughout the season. In the subsequent two years, all the treatments were watered like the control group. The impact of the water reductions introduced in 2017 were evaluated both during that season and those of 2018 and 2019.

The problem arose later, when it was found that the treatment in which irrigation was completely suspended in 2017 ultimately resulted in a 92% mortality rate for the trees. In addition, in the only surviving tree there was a "protracted effect" rendering "its production negligible in 2018 and close to 50% of the control group’s in 2019, despite the fact that maximum irrigation was resumed in 2018," said López. In the plantation in which irrigation was reduced to 25%, however, there were no significant differences with the control treatment in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Source  : University of Córdoba

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Page publiée le 16 janvier 2023