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Maria Victoria Cremona, Hartmut Stützel and Henning Kage

Two-year field experiments were carried out to evaluate the suitability of crop water stress index (CWSI) as a basis for irrigation scheduling of kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea L. var. gongylodes) by comparison with irrigation scheduling based on total soil water content (SWC). In the first year, irrigation scheduling when CWSI exceeded 0.3 resulted in more frequent water applications, but the total amount of irrigation water given was lower compared to irrigation when SWC fell below 70%. Kohlrabi tuber fresh weight at harvest was similar in both scheduling treatments, leading to 25% higher irrigation water use efficiency in the CWSI-scheduled plots. In the second year, three threshold levels, i.e., 0.2 and 80%, 0.4 and 60%, and 0.6 and 40% of CWSI and SWC, respectively, were investigated. At the level of highest water supply (CWSI = 0.2 and SWC = 80%), the total amount of water supplied was less in the CWSI but the number of irrigations was higher than in the SWC plots. The CWSI-based approach may be a method for irrigation scheduling of vegetables under temperate conditions. The higher irrigation frequency required would make this method particularly suitable in combination with irrigation system that allow frequent applications, i.e., in drip irrigation. To improve the method, a coupling with a soil water balance model seems promising.