Riego y Ecofisiología de Cultivos (REC)

In the REC Group we are11 people (6 doctors, 2 graduates, 1 technician and 3 PhD students). The group was founded in 2008, although most of the members were working since long before at the IRNAS. On November 2015 the REC Group built an Associated Unit (Sustainable use of soil and water in arid and semiarid environments) with the IFAPA Las Torres-Tomejil, a research centre belonging to the regional government. The group develops a high scientific activity with others national and international research institutions.

Although most of the research activity of the Group addresses the fundamentals of the studied processes, we are increasingly focused to applied research. In fact, a considerable part of our funds comes from private companies, and most of our research activity is made in commercial farms.

There are two websites with information on our Group: www.olima.es, www.wgsapflow.com.

 

In the Irrigation and Crop Ecophysiology (REC) Group we work on improving irrigation strategies for main crops in areas of Mediterranean climate. We try to establish the basis for a more rational irrigation management, focused on reducing water consumption, achieving an optimum balance between yield production and quality and reducing the environmental impact of the use of water in agriculture.

Our approach is based on the study of physiological mechanisms governing the performance of the cropped species under changing environmental and management conditions. We then use the derived knowledge to design effective irrigation strategies for main crops in areas with water shortage.

The knowledge obtained from our ecophysiological studies is also used to build and improve models able to simulate water uptake from the soil, transpiration and photosynthesis. These models are adapted for their use as tools to improve our understanding of the physiological mechanisms involved in the crop response to water stress, and to derive irrigation strategies and management practices for a more rational use of water.

We work mainly with deficit irrigation strategies, which explains our interest for developing new indicators for an automatic and continuous monitoring of the crop water stress, suitable for commercial orchards with precision irrigation. Although most of our work is made with woody crops, mainly olive, citrus, almond and grape, we also work with sugar beet, maize and cotton, among other herbaceous crops.

Our aim is a more rational irrigation management, focused on reducing water consumption, achieving an optimum balance between yield production and quality and reducing the environmental impact of the use of water in agriculture.

To achieve our objective we work on the following research lines:

– Characterization of main physiological mechanisms governing the crop response to soil and atmospheric conditions

– Evaluation of functional characteristics and main traits allowing the adaptation of the crop to water stress conditions and related to its response to deficit irrigation: osmotic adjustment, hydraulic conductivity, role of chemical (e.g., ABA) and hydraulic signals controlling stomata opening, photosynthetic capacity and mesophyll conductance

– Main physiological variables related to the balance between fruit and vegetative growth

– Building and improving simulation models for water uptake, transpiration and photosynthesis

– Development and testing of water stress indicators, both conventional (water potential, stomatal conductance, growth) and automatic (sapflow, trunk diameter variations, leaf turgor)

– Effect of deficit irrigation on production and quality

– Environmental impact of irrigation: groundwater contamination by agrochemicals, energy and water use efficiencies

– Development of deficit irrigation protocols

– Development of automatic irrigation controllers