Precise irrigation water and nitrogen management improve water and nitrogen use efficiencies under conservation agriculture in the maize-wheat systems

July 26, 2023 | Scientific Reports 

Introduction: Over a three-year field experiment aimed at addressing underground water depletion and ensuring agrifood system sustainability, researchers from International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre in Bangladesh implemented a Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) system combined with nitrogen management in a conservation agriculture-based (CA) maize-wheat system (MWS). 

Key findings: When compared to conventional furrow/flood irrigation (CT-FI), SDI demonstrated significant increase of 5.2% to 15.8% in crop yields, approximatey 55% in water saving, and 25% reduction in fertilizer N use. Despite a higher production cost, the net returns from MWS were significantly elevated (USD 265) under SDI.

Conclusion:  The study emphasizes the potential of combining conservation agriculture with SDI and N management for maximizing productivity, nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), and irrigation water productivity in the Trans-Indus-Gangetic Plain of South Asia.


Fig. |  Maize-wheat systems. (a) Single row of maize and (b) two rows of wheat crop on each permanent bed with subsurface drip irrigation system.