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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Irrigation Management for Soil Salinity Control: Theories and Tests1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 50 No. 6, p. 1552-1560
    Received: Aug 8, 1984

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  1. Eshel Bresler and
  2. Glenn J. Hoffman2



The steady-state leaching theory and related concepts regarding soil salinity control were evaluated in view of the transient-state theories presented and recent experimental results. Data from small plot experiments to establish the leaching requirement of nine crops and from a rhizotron study on the influence of irrigation frequency on soil salinity control agreed with theoretical, transient-state predictions that consider water flow, salt transport, and water uptake by crop roots, simultaneously. Root water uptake was assumed to depend on matric (water content) and osmotic (soil salinity) potentials, and on a critical root-water potential of about −0.3 MPa. The assumption that the major effect of soil salinity is a reduction in plant water uptake was substantiated. Results show water balance components (for nine crops irrigated several times each day and for grass irrigated with various combinations of quantity, quality, and frequency) deviated significantly from predictions based on the steady-state leaching fraction equation. The deviation was attributed to an increase in soil-water content and transpiration as irrigation applications increased; or conversely, an increase in soil-water content as transpiration decreased because of increased soil salinity. The practical limitations of salinity control in irrigated agriculture based on the steady-state leaching equation were evident even for high frequency irrigation where steady-state conditions should be approached. Measured commercial yields and aboveground dry matter production compared well with yields computed on the assumption that relative crop yield is equivalent to relative transpiration. Both measured and computed results indicated that irrigation water quality and quantity, rather than irrigation frequency, influenced dry matter production of grass.

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