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MOL (Science Society of Galicia)

Lynn DUDLEY

Commercial agriculture in the world’s arid regions must rely on irrigation. Soils and water in these drylands are typically characterized by high salinity. Maximization of crop yields when irrigation water is high in concentrated salts depends on providing plant transpiration needs and evaporative losses as well as on maintaining minimum soil-solution salinity through leaching. Traditional approaches to the calculation of leaching requirements ignore feed-back mechanisms related to plant response and also fail to consider soil type and climate. A new approach, made possible through mathematical simulation, demonstrates that there is a minimum leaching fraction capable of being reached with any actual water quality and irrigation regime scenario that is a function of specific soil properties, crop type and climate. This review introduces fundamental concepts of the soil-water-crop-atmosphere continuum in regards to salinity and investigates management options for maximizing yields and promoting water use efficiency in irrigated drylands. The environmental cost of yield maximization in arid agriculture under conditions of salinity and possible approaches to water and salinity management to help promote arid zone agricultural sustainability are discussed. Salinity management can use strategies of water reduction, salt collection and disposal, or reduction of source-water salinity. Policies of providing agriculture with marginal water contaminated with salts and nutrients appear to be highly non-sustainable. Better sustainability may well be attained by providing agriculture with the highest qualities of water, thus promoting optimal productivity with minimal environmental consequences.

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IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT UNDER SALINE CONDITIONS
12

Lynn DUDLEY

IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT UNDER SALINE CONDITIONS

Commercial agriculture in the world’s arid regions must rely on irrigation. Soils and water in these drylands are typically characterized by high salinity. Maximization of crop yields when irrigation water is high in concentrated salts depends on providing plant transpiration needs and evaporative losses as well as on maintaining minimum soil-solution salinity through leaching. Traditional approaches to the calculation of leaching requirements ignore feed-back mechanisms related to plant response and also fail to consider soil type and climate. A new approach, made possible through mathematical simulation, demonstrates that there is a minimum leaching fraction capable of being reached with any actual water quality and irrigation regime scenario that is a function of specific soil properties, crop type and climate. This review introduces fundamental concepts of the soil-water-crop-atmosphere continuum in regards to salinity and investigates management options for maximizing yields and promoting water use efficiency in irrigated drylands. The environmental cost of yield maximization in arid agriculture under conditions of salinity and possible approaches to water and salinity management to help promote arid zone agricultural sustainability are discussed. Salinity management can use strategies of water reduction, salt collection and disposal, or reduction of source-water salinity. Policies of providing agriculture with marginal water contaminated with salts and nutrients appear to be highly non-sustainable. Better sustainability may well be attained by providing agriculture with the highest qualities of water, thus promoting optimal productivity with minimal environmental consequences.

Scientific Publication
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