Water Resources Management

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 39–55 | Cite as

Irrigation Scheduling Optimization for Cotton Based on the AquaCrop Model

  • Fawen Li
  • Dong Yu
  • Yong ZhaoEmail author


To improve irrigation efficiency, it is important to optimize agriculture irrigation scheduling. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the AquaCrop model for its ability to simulate cotton in the North China Plain and optimize irrigation strategies. The AquaCrop model was calibrated using 2002–2009 data and validated using 2010–2014 data. Root mean square error (RMSE), mean absolute error (MAE) and residual coefficient method (CRM) were used to test the model performance. The model calibrated for simulating cotton yield had a prediction error statistic RMSE of 0.152 t hm−2, MAE of 0.123 t hm−2 and CRM of 0.120. On validation, the RMSE was 0.147 t hm−2, MAE was 0.094 t hm−2 and CRM was 0.092. The goodness-of-fit values for the calibration and validation data sets indicated that the model could be used to simulate cotton yield. The analysis of irrigation scenarios indicated that the highest irrigation water productivity could be obtained by applying one irrigation at the seedling stage in a wet year, two irrigations, at the seedling and squaring stages, in a normal year and three irrigations, at the seedling, squaring and flowering stages, in a dry year. These results could be useful to the government in determining reasonable, well-timed irrigation for agricultural regions.


AquaCrop model Cotton Irrigation scheduling optimization Grain yield 



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support for this work provided by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No.2016YFC0401407), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.51579169).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declared that they have no financial conflicts of interest with respect to this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Hydraulic Engineering Simulation and SafetyTianjin UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River BasinChina Institute of Water Resource and Hydro-power ResearchBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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