Evaporative demand and water requirements of the principal crops of the Guadalentín valley (SE Spain) in drought periods

M. I. Sanchez-Toribio, R. Garcia-Marin, C. Conesa-Garcia, F. Lopez-Bermudez


The drought periods that affect the province of Murcia, especially the Guadalentín Valley, are aggravated by an increase in evaporative demand. The aim of the present study was to characterize the increased water demand of woody and herbaceous crops during drought periods in the Guadalentín Valley, an agricultural zone with an excellent climate for specialty crops, which is of great economic importance for Murcia. After defining the drought periods of the last three decades in time and space by means of the standard index of rainfall drought (IESP), several methods were used to determine the reference evapotranspiration (ETo): the Penman-Monteith model (ASCE and FAO models for grass), the Hargreaves method (ETo-ASCE for alfalfa), and ETo using the FAO Radiation method. Finally, the crop water requirements for each to crop type and area of cultivation were estimated using monthly crop coefficients (Kc) and the mean monthly evaporative demand values were obtained by the best fitting method. The increase in the evaporative demand reflected the increased water deficits that occur in the drought years, both in summer and winter (1.23 hm3 yr–1). Drought periods are also responsible for reducing the areas dedicated to horticultural crops, because of their high water demands and the additional costs involved, resulting an aggravated socioeconomic position and increased unemployment.


crop coefficients (Kc); lysimetric measurements; standardized index of rainfall drought; woody and herbaceous crops

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/201008S2-1349