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Evaluation of aerated subsurface drip irrigation on yield, dry weight partitioning and water use efficiency of a broad-acre chickpea (Cicer arietinum, L.) in a vertosol
Chickpea is susceptible to water logging and responds to soil aeration. Oxygen deficiency at both a temporal and spatial scale could occur for a subsurface drip irrigated crop, particularly in heavy clay soils. Use of aerated water irrigation (oxygation) to overcome hypoxia in the rhizosphere was evaluated in broad-acre chickpea crops in 2006 and 2007, in a heavy clay soil of central Queensland, Australia. The injection of 12% by volume air into subsurface drip irrigation water (oxygation) to two consecutive broad-acre chickpea crops resulted in a beneficial effect on yield (gains of 27% and 10% for 2006 and 2007, respectively), but the effect of irrigation regimes at deficit and full irrigation (85 and 100% ETc) was not significantly different. Chickpea yield with aerated subsurface drip irrigation was much higher (3.24 and 2.05 t ha -1 ) compared to the 7-year (2008–2015) national average yield (1.13 t ha -1 ). The aerated irrigation resulted into significantly higher gross production water use index (GPWUI) and irrigation water use index (IWUI) particularly in the year when the crop was planted early in the season. There was no significant difference in response to either of these water use efficiency (WUE) indicators between irrigation treatments, with the exception of a significantly enhanced IWUI with the 85% ETc in the first season. These results were consistent with those for cotton on the same site, providing further justification for the capital investment required for oxygated subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) system. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.