An irrigation control valve that uses the suction developed in a tensiometer to start and stop the flow of water to the irrigation system without the need of electricity was constructed. When soil water suction reached –22 cbars at 25 cm, the valve opened and then closed at –18 cbars. Peach trees at 6 × 6 m (three trees per plot) or 4.9 × 3 m (five trees per plot) spacing were irrigated with either pulse microsprinkler or drip irrigation. Evapotranspiration (ET) was calculated from pan evaporation and adjusted for each plot, based on canopy diameter. Flow meters measured water use for each plot in a split plot design with six replications. In Sept. 1995, drip ET was 30%, and pulse ET was 200% of calculated ET for both plant spacings. Spatial variability in actual and calculated plot ET was >200%, and actual plot ET was highly correlated with calculated plot ET. Data for the 1996 field season will be presented. The results indicate that spatial variability in water use is high, and the tensiometer valve is effective and reliable in scheduling irrigation in a heterogeneous environment.
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