Articles | Volume 19, issue 7
Research article
30 Jul 2015
Research article |  | 30 Jul 2015

Estimation of crop water requirements: extending the one-step approach to dual crop coefficients

J. P. Lhomme, N. Boudhina, M. M. Masmoudi, and A. Chehbouni

Abstract. Crop water requirements are commonly estimated with the FAO-56 methodology based upon a two-step approach: first a reference evapotranspiration (ET0) is calculated from weather variables with the Penman–Monteith equation, then ET0 is multiplied by a tabulated crop-specific coefficient (Kc) to determine the water requirement (ETc) of a given crop under standard conditions. This method has been challenged to the benefit of a one-step approach, where crop evapotranspiration is directly calculated from a Penman–Monteith equation, its surface resistance replacing the crop coefficient. Whereas the transformation of the two-step approach into a one-step approach has been well documented when a single crop coefficient (Kc) is used, the case of dual crop coefficients (Kcb for the crop and Ke for the soil) has not been treated yet. The present paper examines this specific case. Using a full two-layer model as a reference, it is shown that the FAO-56 dual crop coefficient approach can be translated into a one-step approach based upon a modified combination equation. This equation has the basic form of the Penman–Monteith equation but its surface resistance is calculated as the parallel sum of a foliage resistance (replacing Kcb) and a soil surface resistance (replacing Ke). We also show that the foliage resistance, which depends on leaf stomatal resistance and leaf area, can be inferred from the basal crop coefficient (Kcb) in a way similar to the Matt–Shuttleworth method.