Soil water content and water balance in rainfed fields in Northeast Thailand

Toshitsugu Moroizumi, Hiromasa Hamada, Somsak Sukchan, Masahiro Ikemoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Northeast Thailand has a semi-humid tropical climate which is characterized by dry and rainy seasons. In order to stabilize crop production, it may be necessary to develop new water resources, such as soil moisture and groundwater, instead of rainfed resources. This is because rainfed agriculture has already been unsuccessfully tried in many areas of this region. In this study, we investigate the soil water content in rainfed fields in Khon Kaen in Northeast Thailand, where rice and sugarcane were planted, over a 1-year period that contained both dry and rainy seasons, and estimate the actual evapotranspiration (ETa) using micrometeorological data. In addition, we assess the water balance from the results of the soil water content investigation and the actual evapotranspiration. Although the soil water content at depths above 0.6 m in both the lower and the sloping fields gradually decreased during the dry season, the soil water content at a depth of 1.0 m was under almost constant wet conditions. Two-dimensional profiles of the soil water content demonstrated that at the end of the dry season, the soil layers below a depth of 0.4 m showed a soil water content of more than 0.10-0.15 m3 m-3, thus suggesting that water was supplied to the sugarcane from those layers. The range in ETa rates was almost the same as that in the previous study. The average ETa rates were 3.7 mm d-1 for the lower field and 4.2 mm d-1 for the sloping field. In the dry season, an upward water flow of 373 mm (equivalent to a flux of 1.9 mm d-1) was estimated from outside the profile. The source of this upward water flow was the sandy clay (SC) layer below a depth of 1 m. It was this soil water supply from the SC layer that allowed the sugarcane to grow without irrigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-166
Number of pages7
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Evapotranspiration
  • Northeast Thailand
  • Rainfed field
  • Soil water content
  • Water balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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