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Investigation of spatio-temporal fluctuations of soil water dynamics of fruit cultivations under the influence of irrigation


The aim of this projekt was a detailed investigation to provide data to help quantify in greater detail the spatial and temporal fluctuation of soil water dynamics under the influence of irrigation; the basis were data collected personally between 2003 and 2006. The region selected was South Tyrol in northern Italy: with about 18.000 hectares the biggest coherent apple growing area in Europe. It is generally believed that intensive fruit cultivation there has to rely on regular irrigation of the fruit trees to guarantee optimum results in both quantity and quality of the produce. However, the way irrigation is applied there follows very subjective criteria. The consequence is that irrigation in this region is a very cost-intensive factor of production which is increasingly being discussed and criticized for both economical and ecological reasons. These conditions provided several targets for this project: One was to provide fundamental information and data on the patterns of the regional soil water dynamics under the influence of irrigation as well as parameters of natural influences. These data were then used as a basis from which to evaluate the necessity and the real amount of irrigation needed, based on regional differentiation and objective criteria. A further target was to provide various parameters by collecting a vast number of data taken at hourly intervals and, as a result, to establish transfer models specific to locations and depths that were to describe and explain the soil water dynamics of specified locations and, if possible, locations in general.

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