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Increasing Water Use Efficiency in Husk Tomato (Physalis ixocarpa Brot) Production in Tabasco, Mexico with Improved Irrigation Water Management

DOI: 10.4236/jwarp.2014.613114, PP. 1248-1258

Keywords: Drip Irrigation, Plastic Sheeting, Water Productivity, Profitability

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Abstract:

Husk tomato production technology was developed utilizing plastic sheeting and drip irrigation based on the results of reference evapotranspiration and crop coefficients (Kc) proposed at different phenological stages. The objectives of this study were as follows: 1) to evaluate the effect of plastic sheeting on the yield of husk tomato fruit with drip irrigation based on crop evapotranspiration; 2) to validate the use of drip irrigation technology and plastic sheeting in husk tomato production using demonstration plots; and 3) to determine the profitability and economic viability of the product in the domestic market. The proposed Kc values were 0.25, 0.71 and 0.56 in the initial, intermediate and final stage of crop development, respectively. Irrigation rates ranged from 2.5 to 6 mm·day-1, which was equivalent to an irrigation time of 0.6 to 2.5 hr. Soil moisture tension was monitored with tensiometers at depths of 15 and 30 cm in a loamy eutricfluvisol. The use of plastic sheeting increased husk tomato yield by 56.2% and water productivity by 63.5% under drip irrigation conditions when basing irrigation levels on crop evapotranspiration. Soil matrix potential varied between depths of 15 and 30 cm based on irrigation or rainfall amounts and the use of plastic sheeting with values being higher when the plastic sheeting was used. The husk tomato fruit yield in validation plots was 46 and 54.6 t·ha-1 with water use efficiencies ranging from 16.1 to 19.1 kg·m-3. These results exceeded the national average of 14 t·ha-1 and water use efficiency of 2.54 kg·m-3. With this new technology, a cost benefit ratio of 3.6 is obtained, which represents an economically profitable margin for farmers in the region.

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