Almond water use was investigated at the leaf, plant and canopy level under a range of irrigation conditions in commercial orchards in California. Understanding plant response to water stress, specifically the behavior of plant transpiration and water use during periods of water stress, has important implications for irrigation scheduling in agriculture but also for water resources management and policy making.
Leaf gas exchange measurements of stomatal conductance and photosynthetic rate were performed at midday on shaded and on sunlit leaves, with midday stem water potential used to assess plant water stress. An essentially linear decline in both photosynthetic rate (from 25 to 5 μmol m-2 s-1) and stomatal conductance (from 400 to 50 mmol m -2 s-1) as stem water potential declined over the range of -0.5 to -3 MPa was observed in sunlit leaves. These data indicated a strong sensitivity of leaf-level physiological processes to water stress. However, evapotranspiration at the canopy level, measured using Eddy Covariance, did not show a reduction relative to atmospheric demand during periods of water stress. The apparent disconnect observed between leaf conductance, responsive to water stress and canopy evapotranspiration, insensitive to water stress, is the central problem investigated in this study.
When the transpiration data was analyzed in the framework of a "Big Leaf" model, decoupled conditions (i.e. a limited stomatal control of transpiration) were shown to prevail at the experimental site, contrary to previous findings reported in the literature for tall crops such as almond orchards. Low coupling implies only a moderate sensitivity of transpiration to stomatal closure. Measured coupling increased substantially with wind speed but showed a wide range of values at the low wind speeds (<1m s-1) that were observed at the site. At any wind speed however, higher canopy resistance resulted in higher coupling. The high leaf area index observed in the orchard may have been responsible for causing decoupled conditions, because when leaf area decreased as a result of harvesting operations, canopy transpiration appeared to become more sensitive to water stress.
Cumulative daily sap velocity was used as an estimate of plant transpiration. At the plant level, contrasting behaviors were observed in plant transpiration in the presence of water stress, depending on the duration and intensity of the stress. During long soil dry-down periods encompassing several weeks, plant transpiration relative to the evaporative demand of the atmosphere showed a statistically significant decline associated with a decrease in stem water potential and in stomatal closure. However, when the cycle of water stress was short (days), reductions in stem water potential seemed to be associated with an increase in cumulative sapflow velocity. The analysis of these results led to the development of a simple model that describes the theoretical interactions between three dependent variables, namely stem water potential, stomatal conductance and transpiration. The model output suggested that in wet soil, an increase in transpiration may be caused by increasing evaporative demand even if stem water potential and stomatal conductance decrease.
|Commitee:||Gilbert, Matthew E., Snyder, Richard L.|
|School:||University of California, Davis|
|Department:||Horticulture and Agronomy|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 77/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Plant biology, Horticulture, Water Resource Management|
|Keywords:||Canopy resistance, Evapotranspiration, Stem water potential, Stomatal conductance, Water stress|
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