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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Response of Cotton, Alfalfa, and Cantaloupe to Foliar-deposited Salt in an Arid Environment1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 16 No. 3, p. 267-272
    Received: Oct 14, 1986

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  1. W. C. Hofmann,
  2. M. M. Karpiscak and
  3. P. G. Bartels2



The cooling towers at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (PVNGS), located 80 km west of Phoenix, AZ, will release an estimated 2.1 Mg/d of particulates (primarily salts) into the atmosphere when the station is in full operation. The saline drift will disperse and settle onto agricultural fields surrounding the station. Field studies were conducted in 1953 to investigate the influence of foliar-applied saline aerosol on crop growth, foliar injury, and tissue elemental concentration on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), and cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L.) in an arid environment. The treatment aerosol solutions simulated treated wastewater effluent and included all essential plant nutrients and other elements, including trace concentrations of heavy metals. The treatments included unsprayed plots, and plots sprayed with salt solutions at 0 (distilled water), 8, 83, and 415 kg/(ha yr). The alfalfa received an additional 829 kg/(ha yr) treatment. The species were evaluated in separate experiments on Mohave clay loam and Sonoita sandy loam soils (Typic Haplargid) near Marana, AZ. Cotton treated with 415 kg/(ha yr) had significantly less chlorosis and tended to be slightly taller than the cotton in the unsprayed plots. The alfalfa treated at a rate of 829 kg/(ha yr) showed significantly more leaf margin necrosis than did the unsprayed alfalfa. In the cantaloupe, there were no visually apparent differences among salt treatments. Hand-harvested cotton plots had a significant reduction in seed cotton yield at the 415 kg/(ha yr) treatment (P ≤0.05). A similar though nonsignificant, trend towards reduced yield with increased salt treatment was observed in machine-harvested cotton plots. No significant yield differences were detected in the alfalfa or cantaloupe.

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