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THE EFFECT OF DEFICIT IRRIGATION ON THE YIELD OF LETTUCE
(Lactuca sativa l.)

By

Zwane Siphesihle B.

A Research project report
Submitted to the Agricultural and Biosytems Engineering Department of the
University of Swaziland in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of B.Sc.
in Agricultural and Biosytems Engineering.

Faculty of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, Luyengo Campus

May 2015

i

Copyright
Permission has been granted only to the Library of the University of Swaziland to
lend copies of this research project report.

The author reserves other publication rights. Neither the research project report nor
extensive extracts from it may be printed or reproduced without the author’s written
permission.

Copyright © Zwane, Siphesihle B.

ii

Approval Page

Author

:

Zwane, Siphesihle, B.

........................................

Supervisor

:

Dr. M. V. Dlamini

.......................................

Head of Department

:

Professor A.M Manyatsi

.......................................

Date……………………………………………………………………………………..

Approved: ......................................................................................................................

iii

ABSTRACT
Limited water supply is a serious threat to agriculture and often causes a yield
reduction. The challenge is to achieve greater water use efficiency by employing
techniques such as deficit irrigation to deliver a more accurate supply of water to
crops. Deficit irrigation is the application of water below full requirements, without
affecting the yield. A study was undertaken in a greenhouse, using 4 drip irrigation
laterals each with 30 lettuce plants. Treatments were T1 - irrigation daily, T2 –
irrigation after 2 days, T3 – irrigation after 3 days and T4 – irrigation after 4 days.
Irrigation depth was the same for all treatments obtained by multiplying reference
crop ETo (Sugar cane: 8mm/day) by maximum lettuce crop growth co-efficient (Kc:
1.05). The results showed irrigation after 3 days was the most productive irrigation
regime in terms of 20 fresh lettuce head mass. Treatment T3 fresh lettuce mass was
5873.4 g, which was determined to be significantly higher (P < 0.05) than T1 (4784
g), T2 (5321.1 g) and T4 (3094.8 g) using LSD test and Generalized Linear Model
(GLM). Treatment T3 had the highest mean fresh lettuce head mass (293.67 g). The
results indicated there was no significant difference in dry matter between treatments
T1, and T2, T3 T4 using the LSD test. The Generalized Linear Model indicated there
was a significant difference in dry matter production between treatments T1 and T3
however there was no significant difference (P > 0.05) between T1 and T2, T4.
Treatment T3 had the highest mean dry matter production (15.50 g) followed by
T2,T1 and T4 at 14.18 g, 12.92 g and 10.84 g respectively. Treatment T3 had the
highest water use efficiency (19.3 %), followed by T4, T2 and T1 at 13 %, 9.3 % and
4.3 % respectively. Treatment T2 as compared to T1 achieved a water saving 51 %
while T3 achieved a water saving of 72 % and T4 achieved a water saving of 78 %.
The results indicate deficit irrigation for lettuce irrigation every 3 days, can lead to
greater economic gains than maximizing yields per unit of water used.

iv

DEDICATION
This study is dedicated to my family, especially my parents for their support during my
academic journey. They have been a source of encouragement for me and their prayers
have seen me through, I thank God for blessing me with such people in my life.

v

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to thank God firstly for blessing me with the opportunity to join the
University Of Swaziland, and offering his everlasting power and strength to do such
work. I also would like to pass my sincere thanks to my supervisor, Dr M.V. Dlamini for
his dedication in offering the relevant assistance and guidance throughout the whole
research period. I also wish to thank all the Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering
staff members. I wish to convey my appreciation and sincere thanks to my family and
friends who supported at all times during the research period.

vi

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
ABE

Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering.

CWR

Crop Water Requirements

DI

Deficit irrigation

Dn

Net irrigation depth

Ea

Irrigation system application Efficiency

ET0

Reference evapotranspiration

ETc

crop evapotranspiration

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization

GLM

Generalized Linear Model

IBM

International Business Machine.

IBM

International Business Machines

Kc

Crop growth stage co-efficient

LSD

Least significant difference

NAMBoard

National Marketing Board.

SPSS

Statistical Package for Social Sciences

T1

Irrigation daily (Control treatment)

T2

Irrigation after every 2 days

T3

Irrigation after every 3 days

T4

Irrigation after every 4 days

WUE

Water Use Efficiency.

vii

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................. iii
DEDICATION............................................................................................................. iv
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ........................................................................................ v
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS .................................................................................... vi
TABLE OF CONTENTS ..........................................................................................vii
LIST OF TABLES ...................................................................................................... ix
LIST OF FIGURES ..................................................................................................... x
LIST OF APPENDICES ............................................................................................ xi
1.0

INTRODUCTION............................................................................................ 1

1.1

Background information ................................................................................ 1

1.2

Problem statement .......................................................................................... 2

1.3

Objectives ...................................................................................................... 2

1.3.1

General objective ................................................................................... 2

1.3.2

Specific objectives ................................................................................. 2

2.0

REVIEW OF LITERATURE ......................................................................... 3

2.1 Water saving in irrigation..................................................................................... 3
2.2 Lettuce Water Requirements................................................................................ 3
2.3 Determining crop water requirements (ETc) ....................................................... 3
2.4 Irrigation efficiency. ............................................................................................ 5
2.5 Crop Water Use efficiency................................................................................... 5
3.0

METHODOLOGY .......................................................................................... 7

3.1

Location and environmental conditions of the experiment............................ 7

3.2

Research design ............................................................................................. 7

3.3

Materials and equipment ................................................................................ 7

3.4

Field layout .................................................................................................... 8

viii
3.5 Data collection ..................................................................................................... 9
3.6 Data analysis ........................................................................................................ 9
4.0 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION .......................................................................... 10
4.1 Temperatures inside and outside the greenhouse facility .................................. 10
4.2 Mass at harvest ................................................................................................... 10
4.2 Dry mass ............................................................................................................ 12
4.3 Water Use Efficiency ......................................................................................... 13
5.0

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ....................................... 15

5.1

Conclusions .................................................................................................. 15

5.2

Recommendations ........................................................................................ 15

6.0

LITERATURE CITED ................................................................................. 16

7.0

APPENDIXES ................................................................................................ 18


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