D1 – Optimizing cotton productivity

Partner: ZEF in cooperation with UAF

Major objectives consist in conceiving, practically testing, and demonstrating strategies and techniques to improve the productivity of cotton irrigation. Measures to raise productivity are mainly demand-oriented irrigation scheduling, advanced performance of water application in the field, knowledge on irrigation losses at field and canal level, appropriate embedding irrigation into the agricultural system and utilizing decentral storage options (see also: M2).

Current Results
Improved scheduling strategies and advanced handling of irrigation techniques enabling a higher efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of irrigation water and salt management are derived and tested at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) WMRC test site and considered under real conditions in Mungi Disty. Field experiments consider different irrigation methods (furrow, raised-bed, drip) as well as full and deficit strategies. Experiments show that full irrigation by a drip system enables a yield of 3.25 t/ha raw cotton with an application efficiency of 83% and water productivity of 0.68 kg raw cotton per m3 gross water input. Furrow irrigation was applied without deficit, and 10% and 20% deficit (related to evapotranspiration). Yields of 2.95, 2.64, and 2.35 t/ha raw cotton and efficiencies at full level of 64%, 71%, and 80% showed that in deficit irrigation lower gross water input (higher efficiency) compensated lower yields. Therefore, water productivity was rather constant at approx. 0.48 kg raw cotton per m3 gross water input.

Expected Outcome
The strategies for improving irrigation scheduling, advancing current handling of furrow irrigation and integrating options of modern techniques (drip irrigation) are jointly tested (UAF scientists, practitioners from Punjab Irrigation, farmers cooperating with UAF) and further adapted to requirements under real conditions of irrigated agriculture in Punjab. This approach contributes to create an enabling environment for outscaling of findings at the level of farms and areas fed by a Distributary canal.