Six dryland crops (mungbean, cow pea, soya bean, groundnut, maize and sorghum) and two rice cultivars (C·171·136 and IR 36) were grown under rainfed and irrigated conditions on a dryland site with a clay loam soil at the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines. After the first 30 days of growth there was no effective rain, and the rainfed crops encountered different water deficits. Crop productivity, leaf area, plant water status, root distribution, and soil water use were measured.
Neither rice cultivar yielded seed under rainfed conditions, but all other crops did. With mungbean and cow pea there was little difference between the yields under rainfed and irrigated conditions, but groundnut, soya bean, sorghum and maize gave higher yields under irrigation.
The rainfed crops extracted different amounts of stored soil water, ranging from 100 mm for IR 36 to 250 mm for groundnut. The different amounts were associated with different growth durations, rooting depths and rates of soil water depletion from within the root zone. Biological productivity of the six rainfed crops with the C 3 photosynthetic pathway was linearly related to transpiration, which was estimated from soil water extraction and soil evaporation. Biological productivity per unit of transpiration for the two crops with the C 4 pathway was 2·2 times higher than for those with the C 3 pathway. The different seed yields of the rainfed crops were due to differences in harvest index and the chemical composition of seeds, as well as to biological productivity.
The results are discussed in relation to the potential for growing dryland crops after rice in rice-based cropping systems.