The aim of this study was to assess soil moisture and water use efficiency in cotton plants (Gossypium hirsutum L.) grown in different row spacing in the Cerrado, Brazil. The crop was irrigated by drip irrigation, and the amount of supplied water was equal to 90% of crop evapotranspiration (ETc). Spacing of 0.4, 0.7 and 1.0 m between rows were assessed. Soil moisture was assessed up to 1.0 m deep, and water use efficiency for seed cotton and shoot dry matter yield was assessed based on the total water supplied to the crop (rain + irrigation). Soil moisture variations were minimal from 0.6 m deep, regardless of the spacing used. From this same depth, the soil cultivated under the denser system (0.4 m) was drier than the other spacing. In traditional planting (1.0 m), the cotton plant has lower water use efficiency for both seed and shoot dry matter yield. Water use efficiency is optimized in 0.6 m spacing, although the nitrogen dose applied should be observed.
Key words: Gossypium hirsutum L., drip irrigation (SDI), moisture profile.
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