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Modeling deficit irrigation in alfalfa production
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A conceptual agronomic model EPIC was extended to consider the effects of salinity in alfalfa production under optimal and water stress irrigation conditions. The extended model was calibrated and validated with observed lysimeter data. The model parameters that affected alfalfa yield and soil salinity the most were wilting point, field capacity, hydraulic conductivity, nitrate concentration, biomass energy ratio, seeding rate, average soil salinity EC e at which crop yield is reduced by 50% ( EC50 ), and initial soil gypsum concentration. The calibrated and validated model was then applied to an alfalfa deficit irrigation study. The four irrigation treatments included optimum check, minimum stress, short stress, and long stress, each of which produced differential alfalfa yields. The purpose of summer deficit irrigation was to ascertain how much agricultural water at what cost could be made available for urban water uses during water shortfalls. The results of model simulation were found to be satisfactory under all irrigation treatments though the model slightly overestimated the yields and underestimated the soil EC e at the end of short and long stress treatments. An economic component is included to determine the appropriate compensation for farmers undergoing a range of deficit irrigations.