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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-411
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-411
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 27 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 27 Aug 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Responses of soil water storage and crop water use efficiency to changing climatic conditions: A lysimeter-based space-for-time approach

Jannis Groh1,2, Jan Vanderborght2, Thomas Pütz2, Hans-Jörg Vogel3, Ralf Gründling3, Holger Rupp3, Mehdi Rahmati4, Michael Sommer5,6, Harry Vereecken2, and Horst H. Gerke1 Jannis Groh et al.
  • 1Research Area 1 “Landscape Functioning”, Working Group “Hydropedology”, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, 15374, Germany
  • 2Institute of Bio- and Geoscience IBG-3: Agrosphere, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Jülich, 52425, Germany
  • 3Department of Soil Physics, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Halle (Saale), 06120, Germany
  • 4Department of Soil Science and Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Maragheh, Maragheh, Iran
  • 5Research Area 1 “Landscape Functioning”, Working Group “Landscape Pedology”, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, 15374, Germany
  • 6Institute of Environmental Science and Geography, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, 14476, Germany

Abstract. Future crop production will be affected by climatic changes. In several regions, the projected changes in total rainfall and seasonal rainfall patterns will lead to lower soil water storage (SWS) which in turn affects crop water uptake, crop yield, water use efficiency, grain quality and groundwater recharge. Effects of climate change on those variables depend on the soil properties and were often estimated based on model simulations. The objective of this study was to investigate the response of key variables in four different soils and for two different climates in Germany with different aridity index: 1.09 for the wetter (range: 0.82 to 1.29) and 1.57 for the drier climate (range: 1.19 to 1.77), by using high-precision weighable lysimeters. According to a “space-for-time” concept, intact soil monoliths that were moved to sites with contrasting climatic conditions have been monitored from April 2011 until December 2018.

Evapotranspiration was lower for the same soil under the relatively drier climate whereas crop yield was significantly higher, without affecting grain quality. Especially non-productive water losses (evapotranspiration out of the main growing period) were lower which led to a more efficient crop water use in the drier climate. A characteristic decrease of the SWS for soils with a finer texture was observed after a longer drought period under a drier climate. The reduced SWS after the drought remained until the end of the observation period which demonstrates carry-over of drought from one growing season to another and the overall long term effects of single drought events. In the relatively drier climate, water flow at the soil profile bottom showed a small net upward flux over the entire monitoring period as compared to downward fluxes (ground water recharge) or drainage in the relatively wetter climate and larger recharge rates in the coarser- as compared to finer-textured soils. The large variability of recharge from year to year and the long lasting effects of drought periods on SWS imply that long term monitoring of soil water balance components is necessary to obtain representative estimates. Results confirmed a more efficient crop water use under less optimal soil moisture conditions. Long-term effects of changing climatic conditions on the SWS and ecosystem productivity should be considered when trying to develop adaptation strategies in the agricultural sector.

Jannis Groh et al.
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