Transpiration-use efficiency of young cactus pear plants (Opuntia ficus-indica L.)

Cristian Kremer, Carlos Faúndez, Víctor Beyá-Marshall, Nicolas Franck, Víctor Muñoz-Aravena


Opuntia ficus-indica is a versatile crop that is resilient to drought, making it perfect for semiarid to arid zones. However, the lack of knowledge associated with its benefits and the lack of simple crop growth simulation models to determine its potential development, among others, has prevented its expansion. Transpiration-use efficiency (w) has been used to evaluate crop performance under different water supplies; however, the lack of consistency in w values under different environmental conditions has impeded its use as a transferable parameter. To overcome this problem, w is estimated through the normalized water-use efficiency (kDa) and the vapor pressure deficit (Da) as w = kDa Da-1, where kDa is a crop-dependent parameter. Therefore, the goals of this research were (i) to determine w and kDa in young plants of Opuntia ficus-indica and (ii) to compare the obtained parameters with values from other species. The w and kDa results were 18.57 (g kg-1) and 6.48 (g kPa kg-1), respectively. Here, w was more than two to six times the value for traditional cereals (maize, rice, wheat), while kDa was larger than that of most C3 crops and fell in the range for C4 and CAM crops. This is the first study that explicitly determines kDa for Opuntia ficus-indica; hence, more research should be carried out on its estimation, including under different agroclimatic conditions and in later stages of development. As a first approximation, the parameters obtained here can be used as a simple model to estimate yield projections of Opuntia ficus-indica.


Arid zone agriculture, CAM, crops adapted to drought, simple crop growth models

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