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- Author or Editor: Fei Xu x
Although atmospheric evaporative demand mediates water flow and constrains water-use efficiency (WUE) to a large extent, the potential to reduce irrigation demand and improve water productivity by regulating the atmospheric water driving force is highly uncertain. To bridge this gap, water transport in combination with plant productivity was examined in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) grown at contrasting evaporative demand gradients. Reducing the excessive vapor pressure deficit (VPD) decreased the water flow rate, which reduced irrigation consumption significantly by 16.4%. Reducing excessive evaporative demand moderated plant water stress, as leaf dehydration, hydraulic limitation, and excessive negative water potential were prevented by maintaining water balance in the low-VPD treatment. The moderation of plant water stress by reducing evaporative demand sustained stomatal function for photosynthesis and plant growth, which increased substantially fruit yield and shoot biomass by 20.1% and 18.4%, respectively. From a physiological perspective, a reduction in irrigation demand and an improvement in plant productivity were achieved concomitantly by reducing the excessive VPD. Consequently, WUE based on the criteria of plant biomass and fruit yield was increased significantly by 43.1% and 40.5%, respectively.