Modelling Transpiration and Growth of Salinity and Drought Stressed Tomatoes

University dissertation from Stockholm : Mark och vatten

Abstract: Irrigation with saline waters is an agricultural practicethat is becoming increasingly common as competition for freshwater increases. In this thesis the mechanisms behind salinityand drought stress has been studied using data from fieldexperiments in combination with a modelling tool, theCoupModel. Measurements from field experiments on salinity,boron toxicity and drought stressed tomatoes grown during twoclimatically different seasons in the Arava desert, Israel,showed a linear relationship between relative growth andevapotranspiration, for all treatments and seasons. Data fromthe spring was used to concurrently simulate growth andtranspiration, hence accounting for feedback mechanisms betweenthe plant and the environment. Salinity stress was modelled asan osmotic effect (reduction of water uptake at high soilsalinities, W approach) or a toxicity effect (direct reductionof photosynthesis with soil salinity, G approach). Goodagreement between simulated growth and transpiration wasachieved with both salinity stress approaches, with twoexceptions. When growth and transpiration were simulated withthe W approach at different salinity levels, transpiration wasunderestimated at high stress. The G approach resulted in anunderestimation of growth at high water stress under moderatesalinity. A direct decrease of photosynthesis leads to adecreasing water-use efficiency with salinity while water-useefficiency remains constant with salinity when the salinitystress is modelled as a reduction in water uptake. Measurementsshowed decreasing water-use efficiency for the salinitygradient, explaining why the W approach was not applicable. Itwas not possible to detect any considerable differences betweenthree different approaches for water uptake tested in thestudy.Keywords:Water-use efficiency; osmotic effect; iontoxicity; semi-arid.