Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 138, Issue 3–4, pp 1785–1793 | Cite as

Revisiting the crop coefficient–reference evapotranspiration procedure for improving irrigation management

  • Fábio R. MarinEmail author
  • Luiz R. Angelocci
  • Daniel S. P. Nassif
  • Murilo S. Vianna
  • Felipe G. Pilau
  • Evandro H. F. M. da Silva
  • Luiz R. Sobenko
  • Alexandre O. Gonçalves
  • Rodolfo A. A. Pereira
  • Kassio S. Carvalho
Original Paper


The consumptive use of water by irrigated crops is typically quantified using the crop coefficient–reference evapotranspiration (KcETo) procedure; yet, recent results showed that Kc might change with ETo, in response to high atmospheric demand. It is not known if the reduced Kc at high ETo applies to other crops with different aerodynamic features of the canopies. This paper seeks to provide the Kc values for soybean, wheat and potato, and propose an adaptation to the KcETo procedure, hypothesising that the inverse relation between Kc and ETo would be general for all types of crops. Our results showed average Kc values of 0.90, 1.18 and 1.28, respectively, for soybean, wheat and potato cropping systems in the Brazilian cropping systems. However, Kc decreased as ETo increased, for all crops considered in this study, because of the increase of internal plant resistances to vapour diffusion from the leaves to the atmosphere. When ETo was above > 4 mm d−1, the water use by such crops was lower than that prescribed by Allen et al. (JAMA, 1998). The time-based Kc curves in Allen et al. (JAMA, 1998) are inappropriate for the studied crops under high demanding conditions and, besides the considerations suggested by Allen et al. (JAMA, 1998) (i.e., crop development stage, presence or absence of weeds), Kc recommendations for practical irrigation management should be based on the average ETo values of the previous days of the irrigation procedure.



The authors are grateful to Dr. Leandro G Costa for the work in part of the sugarcane experiment.


This study was funded by the Brazilian Research Council (CNPq, grant nos. 301424/2015-2 and 401662/2016-0) and the Research Foundation of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP, grant nos. 2000/12237-5, 2011/18072-2, 2014/12406-4, 2014/05887-6, 2017/20925-0, 2017/50445-0 and 2017/25894-5).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fábio R. Marin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luiz R. Angelocci
    • 1
  • Daniel S. P. Nassif
    • 2
  • Murilo S. Vianna
    • 1
  • Felipe G. Pilau
    • 1
  • Evandro H. F. M. da Silva
    • 1
  • Luiz R. Sobenko
    • 1
  • Alexandre O. Gonçalves
    • 1
    • 3
  • Rodolfo A. A. Pereira
    • 1
  • Kassio S. Carvalho
    • 4
  1. 1.College of Agriculture “Luiz de Queiroz” (ESALQ)University of São Paulo (USP)PiracicabaBrazil
  2. 2.Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCAR)BuriBrazil
  3. 3.Embrapa SoilsRio de JaneiroBrazil
  4. 4.Federal Institute of Mato GrossoSorrisoBrazil

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