Salinity Management Using an Anionic Polymer in a Pecan Field with Calcareous–Sodic Soil
- Girisha K. Ganjegunte *,
- Zhuping Sheng and
- Robert J. Braun
Soil salinity and sodicity have long been recognized as the major concerns for irrigated agriculture in the Trans-Pecos Basin, where fields are being flood irrigated with Rio Grande River water that has elevated salinity. Reclamation of these salt-affected lands is difficult due to fine-texture, high shrink-swell soils with low permeability. Conventional practice of subsoiling to improve soil permeability is expensive and has had limited success on the irrigated soils that have appreciable amounts of readily weatherable Ca minerals. If these native Ca sources can be effectively used to counter sodicity, it can improve soil permeability and reduce amelioration costs. This study evaluated the effects of 3 yr of polyacrylamide (PAM) application at 10 mg L−1 concentration during the first irrigation of the season to evaluate soil permeability, in situ Ca mineral dissolution, and leaching of salts from the effective root zone in a pecan field of El Paso County, TX. Results indicated that PAM application improved water movement throughout the effective root zone that resulted in Na leaching. Polymer application significantly decreased CaCO3 (estimated based on inorganic C analysis) concentrations in the top 45 cm compared with baseline levels, indicating solubilization and redistribution of calcite. The PAM application also reduced soil electrical conductivity (ECe) in the top 60 cm (4.64–2.76 dS m−1) and sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) from 13.1 to 5.7 mmol1/2 L−1/2 in the top 75-cm depths. As evidence of improved soil conditions, pecan nut yields increased by 34% in PAM-treated fields over the control. Results suggested that PAM application helped in effective use of native Ca sources present in soils of the study site and reduced Na by improving soil permeability.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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