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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Transport of Solutes as Affected by Irrigation Method


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 57 No. 5, p. 1348-1353
    Received: June 30, 1992

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. D. B. Jaynes and
  2. R. C. Rice
  1. National Soil Tilth Lab., 2150 Pammel Dr., Ames, IA 50011
    U.S. Water Conservation Lab., 4331 E. Broadway, Phoenix, AZ 85040



The leaching behavior of agricultural chemicals depends on the application method of both the chemical and water. This study investigated the leaching behavior of conservative tracers under intermittent flood and drip irrigation on a clay loam soil. Slug applications of conservative tracers were applied sequentially to a single 37-m2 plot and leached under the two irrigation regimes with the same daily application rate. Suction lysimeters, installed at seven depths (0.3, 0.6, 1.0, 1.4, 1.8, 2.4, and 3.0 m) and replicated four times, were used to withdraw daily soil solution samples during leaching. Pore water velocities, v, and dispersion coefficients, D, for a one-dimensional advection-dispersion model were fit to the resulting concentration vs. time curves by nonlinear least squares. Pore water velocities were slightly greater on average under drip irrigation and were more uniform across the plot (smaller variance) than under flood irrigation. Preferential flow was observed under both irrigation regimes. Breakthrough curves showed considerably more spreading under intermittent flood irrigation than under drip, indicating greater hydrodynamic dispersion under flood irrigation. Fitted D values were, on average, nearly three times greater under flood irrigation than under drip. Allowing free water at the soil surface during flood irrigation increased the dispersion of tracer compared with the drip irrigation system, where water was applied at a rate less than the saturated conductivity. The increase in D is most likely due to small-scale spatial variability of the soil's hydraulic properties.

Contribution of the USDA-ARS National Soil Tilth Lab. and U.S. Water Conservation Lab.

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