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James E. Ells, Ann E. McSay and E.G. Kruse

Irrigation scheduling programs were developed for cabbage and zucchini squash that produced high yield and water-use efficiency with a minimum number of irrigations. The irrigation programs are based on a soil water balance model developed by the USDA. The procedure involved selecting irrigation programs developed for similar crops and using them as standards for cabbage and zucchini for three growing seasons. The treatments involved irrigation levels higher and lower than the standard. After the third year, the best treatment for each year was selected. Coefficients for the standard model then were adjusted by trial and error to produce a program that called for the same number of irrigations and the same amount of water as the best-performing treatment when using the same weather data. These revised programs for cabbage and zucchini squash are available on computer disks and may be used on any IBM compatible PC provided wind, temperature, solar radiation, humidity, and precipitation data are available,

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J.E. Ells, A.E. McSay, P.N. Soltanpour, F.C. Schweissing, M.E. Bartolo and E.G. Kruse

Water and nitrogen (N) are major inputs in the production of onions in the Arkansas Valley of Colorado. Because nitrates move with irrigation water, the effect of different rates of application of both N fertilizer and water on nitrate leaching were studied simultaneously. After a 2-year field study (1990-1991), it was concluded that >50 t·ha-1 of onions could be obtained without any N fertilizer when >42 ppm of nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) were initially present in the top 33 cm of soil and up to 112 cm of irrigation water was applied. Total onion yield was not improved by applying more than the calculated irrigation requirement. The 2-m profile of soil under these experiments was found to contain >1400 kg·ha-1 of residual NO3-N prior to fertilizer treatments. When twice the estimated irrigation requirement was applied, >1000 kg·ha-1 of NO3-N was unaccounted for and presumed to have been mostly leached below the 2-m profile and partly denitrified. In both years, the onions were planted on land that had been fallowed the previous season, which does not help explain the presence of the high levels of nitrates found in the soil profile. It was concluded that sound water and N management practices in onion fields are crucial for preservation of water quality.