Simulating the Impacts of Irrigation Levels on Soybean Production in Texas High Plains to Manage Diminishing Groundwater Levels

Vaishali Sharda, Prasanna H. Gowda, Gary Marek, Isaya Kisekka, Chittaranjan Ray, Pradip Adhikari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


There is an increasing need to strategize and plan irrigation systems under varied climatic conditions to support efficient irrigation practices while maintaining and improving the sustainability of groundwater systems. This study was undertaken to simulate the growth and production of soybean [Glycine max (L.)] under different irrigation scenarios. The objectives of this study were to calibrate and validate the CROPGRO-Soybean model under Texas High Plains’ (THP) climatic conditions and to apply the calibrated model to simulate the impacts of different irrigation levels and triggers on soybean production. The methodology involved combining short-term experimental data with long-term historical weather data (1951–2012), and use of mechanistic crop growth simulation algorithms to determine optimum irrigation management strategies. Irrigation was scheduled based on five different plant extractable water levels (irrigation threshold [ITHR]) set at 20%, 35%, 50%, 65%, and 80%. The calibrated model was able to satisfactorily reproduce measured leaf area index, biomass, and evapotranspiration for soybean, indicating it can be used for investigating different strategies for irrigating soybean in the THP. Calculations of crop water productivity for biomass and yield along with irrigation water use efficiency indicated soybean can be irrigated at ITHR set at 50% or 65% with minimal yield loss as compared to 80% ITHR, thus conserving water and contributing toward lower groundwater withdrawals. Editor's note: This paper is part of the featured series on Optimizing Ogallala Aquifer Water Use to Sustain Food Systems. See the February 2019 issue for the introduction and background to the series.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-69
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • CROPGRO-Soybean
  • crop water productivity
  • deficit irrigation
  • irrigation strategy
  • irrigation water use efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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