Commercial cultivation of date palms has high economic significance, particularly in arid and hyper-arid regions. Achieving commercially viable yield of dates amid water scarcity and enforced restrictions on water use requires optimising the amount and timing of irrigation. To that end, better understanding of the temporal dynamics of the water use of date palm is of great importance. Traditionally, this can be achieved through sap flow estimates obtained using heat dissipation probes. However, such measurements lack the ability to provide information on the spatial distribution of sap flow, which is important considering that date palms transport water in the entire stem cross-section. The aim of this study is to evaluate whether electrical resistivity tomography measurements have the potential to provide information on the spatial variability of flow in date palm stems. For this, flow was induced through a stem segment that was obtained from a felled date palm tree. ERT measurements were continuously obtained throughout a cycle of flow and no-flow periods. The results showed that the mean bulk electrical conductivity varied strongly due to changes in the flow conditions. In addition, it was found that the electrical conductivity of the outflow was much higher than that of the inflow, which indicates the release of stored salt from the stem segment. Analysis of the spatial distribution of the electrical conductivity suggested that flow mainly occurred in a limited part of the cross-sectional area of the stem. Overall, it was concluded that the ERT is a promising tool to investigate the spatial variability of water flow in date palm stems.
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