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Aims: Cactus pear cultivation for fruit production is under rainfed conditions, mainly. Hence, irrigation uses for this purpose is expensive in arid and semi-arid agricultural lands. The objective of this study was to derive agro-economic indicators associated with supplemental irrigation to improve fruit yield of commercial cactus pear cultivars grown in a semiarid agroecosystem of Mexico.
Study Design: The irrigation treatments tested were fully irrigated (FI) and supplemental irrigation (SI), with non-irrigated as a control (NI).
Place and Duration of Study: The experiment was set up at the Campo Experimental Zacatecas, Calera, Zacatecas, Mexico from 2011 to 2013.
Methodology: Five-year-old cactus pear plants of ‘Cristalina’ (O. albicarpa Scheinvar; white-pulped fruit) and ‘Roja Lisa’ [O. ficus-indica (L.) Mill.; red-pulped fruit] were included. The experiment was conducted in a split-block design. There were three blocks; each included both cultivars, randomly allocated to each irrigation treatment. The response variables were: fruit yield (FY), cultivation costs (CC), gross return (GR), net return (NR), benefit-cost ratio (BC), irrigation use efficiency (IUE), gross water productivity (GWP), net water productivity (NWP), labor productivity (LP), break-even-point (BEP), and credit vulnerability (CV).
Results: In all years but 2013, FI ‘Cristalina’ plants had the highest CC, reflected in their greater GR and NR; however, BC values were similar between SI and FI plants or greater in SI plants for 2013. Therefore, SI plants had the highest IUE, GWP, NWP, LP, EP, and equal or greater credit vulnerability than FI plants. The NI plants produced positive values for BEP and CV. The economic indices for ‘Roja Lisa’ were similar to those of ‘Cristalina’.
Conclusion: The SI treatment produced the best agricultural economic indices and it is also a feasible water-saving irrigation strategy for cactus pear cultivation in semiarid agroecosystems worldwide.
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