Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Krutz, L. Jason

Committee Member

Gholson, Drew M.

Committee Member

Bond, Jason A.

Committee Member

Walker, Timothy W.

Committee Member

Phillips, J. Mike

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Plant and Soil Sciences


Water level declines in the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer (MRVAA) are attributed largely to withdrawals for rice (Oryza sativa L.) irrigation. This study was performed to determine if alternative irrigation strategies for rice could reduce withdrawal from the MRVAA without having an adverse effect on grain yield, grain quality, control of barnyardgrass, and profitability. Research was conducted in Stoneville, MS and 19 on-farm locations across the Delta region of Mississippi from 2014 through 2017 to determine the irrigation threshold for alternate wetting and drying (AWD) rice irrigation, the effect of AWD management on barnyardgrass control, and effects of irrigation water management practice, i.e., conventional flood via cascade (CONV), multiple side inlet (MSI), and MSI coupled with AWD, on aquifer withdrawal, rough rice grain yield, irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE), and net returns above irrigation costs. An AWD threshold of -20 cm below the soil surface had no adverse effect on grain yield or grain quality, reduced irrigation applied by 50%, and improved IWUE by 45% compared to a continuous flood (CF). Control of barnyardgrass in AWD was either maintained or improved compared to CF for both Clearfield and conventional rice production systems. At the production scale, up to 39% less water was applied to AWD compared to CONV and MSI. Rice grain yield for AWD was not different from either CONV or MSI, despite substantial reductions in water use. Relative to standard irrigation strategies, AWD maintained or increased net returns up to $238 ha-1 for pumping depths from 5.5 m to 122 m and diesel prices from $0.42 L-1 to $0.98 L-1. Irrigation water use efficiency was up to 59% greater for AWD relative to conventional systems due to the positive effects of the former on water use while maintaining yield. These data demonstrate that AWD can reduce withdrawal from the MRVAA while maintaining or improving yield and net returns relative to irrigation strategies currently employed across the midsouthern USA rice belt.