Water use of date palms in the saline desert soils of the United Arab Emirates

W. Alyamani, S.R. Green, I. McCann, B.E. Clothier, M. Abdelfattah, R. Pangilinan
Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) currently accounts for about one third of all groundwater allocated for irrigation of the major crops in the United Arab Emirates. Anecdotal evidence suggests many farmers apply excessive amounts of irrigation. Additional precise information on crop water use is required to assist farmers improve their irrigation practices by matching irrigation to crop water demand. This paper presents results from a field experiment to determine the water requirements of mature date palm trees ('Lulu'). The experiments are being conducted at the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), near Dubai. Tree water use is measured directly using sap flow sensors placed in the tree trunks, and indirectly using TDR (time domain reflectometry) waveguides placed in the root-zone soil, to a depth of 2.0 m. Local weather data used to calculate the hourly and daily potential evaporation rate (ETO), and derive an appropriate value for the crop factor, KC. Preliminary data shows the water use of the palm trees to be less than half the amount suggested by the FAO-56 guidelines. Information from field experiments is used to parameterize a decision support tool for irrigation allocation. This is being developed for the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) to improve the management and sustainability of groundwater usage for date palms in the United Arab Emirates.
Alyamani, W., Green, S.R., McCann, I., Clothier, B.E., Abdelfattah, M. and Pangilinan, R. (2017). Water use of date palms in the saline desert soils of the United Arab Emirates. Acta Hortic. 1178, 67-74
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1178.12
compensation heat-pulse, sap flow, time-domain reflectometry, irrigation, modelling

Acta Horticulturae