The amount of water a crop needs depends upon climate, soil conditions, and location. in other words, a water-hogging plant will need more irrigation in arid conditions as opposed to tropical. The best scenario is when the amount of rain and the amount of water a plant needs is the same. That’s why we don’t grow rice in Arizona. The efficiency of a plant is determined by the amount of irrigation needed in kilograms compared to the amount of dry crop yield in kilograms (kilograms water per kilogram food).
“A group of crops referred to as C4 crops, which include maize, sugar cane, sorghum and pearl millet, are physiologically much more efficient at producing dry matter for each millimetre of transpired water than other crops, referred to as C3 crops. But this distinction is most important in situations where rainfall is adequate. For areas where water deficits are common, the use of drought-resistant and drought-escaping crops is much more important.”(Natural Resources Management and Environment Department)
Here is some water efficiency data provided by the USDA (USDA, 1998;Gleik, 2000)
Water consumption by food type of several common crops
Crop/Food Water Requirement (kilograms water per kilogram food) Potato 500-1,500 Wheat 900-2,000 Alfalfa 900-2,000 Sorghum 1,100-1,800 Corn/Maize 1,000-1,800 Soybeans 1,100-2,000 Rice 1,900-5,00
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