Assessing the transferability of transpiration–use efficiency models of biomass production.

Cristián Kremer1,2, and Claudio Stöckle1

Transpiration-use efficiency (w), defined as the ratio of biomass produced per unit water transpired, has been used to evaluate crop performance under limited water supply. However, the lack of consistency of w values through different environmental conditions has not allowed, using it as a transferable parameter. Thus, simple approaches have been developed, including: 1) w = kDa Da-1 and; 2) w = kEto ET0-1 where kDa and kETo are crop-dependent parameters, with the underlying concept that normalization by Da or ET0 would accounts for the effects of climate variations on w, while these parameters would be reasonably constant across diverse environments. The objective of this study was to assess the transferability of kDa and kETo for wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and maize (Zea mays L.). The scarcity of experimental information and discrepancy of the methodology used, justified the use of a canopy transpiration and photosynthesis model which was developed, tested, and fitted with weather data from eight environmentally different locations to simulate values of w, kDa and kETo. The results indicated that kDa and kETo were more variable than expected; suggesting that calibration would be desirable. A consistent trend of change of the parameter values as function of Da or ET0 was found, which can be represented by mathematical functions, allowing transferring w, kDa and kETo (maize). In contrast, the kETo for wheat correlated weakly with Da and ET0, but a low overall coefficient of variation (10%) allowed using an average value as a reasonable predictor of w.

Keywords: Transpiration-use efficiency, models of biomass production.
1Washington State University, Biological Systems Engineering Department, Pullman, Washington, 99163, USA.
2Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Ciencias Agronómicas, Av. Santa Rosa 11315, Santiago, Chile. *Corresponding author (cristiankremer@gmail.com).