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Accumulation of excess salts in the root zone resulting in a partial or complete loss of soil productivity is a worldwide phenomenon. The problems of soil salinity are most widespread in the arid and semi-arid regions but salt affected soils also occur extensively in sub-humid and humid climates, particularly in the coastal regions where the ingress of sea water through estuaries and rivers and through groundwater causes large-scale salinization. Soil salinity is also a serious problem in areas where groundwater of high salt content is used for irrigation. The most serious salinity problems are being faced in the irrigated arid and semi-arid regions of the world and it is in these very regions that irrigation is essential to increase agricultural production to satisfy food requirements. However, irrigation is often costly, technically complex and requires skilled management. Failure to apply efficient principles of water management may result in wastage of water through seepage; over-watering and inadequate drainage result in waterlogging and salinity problems which reduce the soil productivity, eventually leading to loss of cultivable land.
Buringh (1979) calculated from various available data that the world as a whole is losing at least ten hectare of arable land every minute, five because of soil erosion, three from soil salinization, one from other soil degradation processes and one from non-agricultural uses. The problem of soil degradation is a serious threat to the welfare of mankind. Although degradation of the land has always characterized man’s systematic use of it, the process has accelerated in recent decades and precisely at a time when population growth and rising expectations have begun to demand enormous increases in food production. The problem is of overwhelming urgency. As the soil is subject to degradation, the cost of reclaiming it becomes higher, rising sharply until the threshold is passed beyond which reclamation is no longer economically feasible. Nearly 50 percent of the irrigated land in the arid and semi-arid regions have some degree of soil salinization problems. This figure indicates the magnitude of the problem that must be tackled in order to meet future global food needs.
It is generally agreed that the future food needs of increasing population will be met by directing the efforts of all concerned towards:
- improving the level of management of soils already under cultivation, and - by bringing under plough the potentially arable soils which are presently uncultivated. Soil salinity is a major impediment in achieving increased crop yields by either of the above approaches. It is in realization of this that the United Nations Conference on Desertification held in Nairobi in 1977 adopted the following recommendations: “It is recommended that urgent measures be taken to combat desertification in the irrigated lands by preventing and controlling waterlogging, salinization and sodication by modifying farming techniques to increase productivity in a regular and sustained way; by
developing new irrigation and drainage schemes where appropriate always using an integrated approach; and through improvement of the social and economic conditions of people dependent on irrigated agriculture” (United Nations 1977). The problems of salt-affected soils are old but their magnitude and their intensity have been increasing fast due to large-scale efforts to bring additional areas under irrigation in recent decades. The problems have been made worse by development of irrigation systems without adequate provision for drainage and are being aggravated by poor water management practices and unsound reclamation procedures.
The general characteristics and basic principles involved in the identification, reclamation and management of salt-affected soils are the same throughout the world. However, differences from place to place in soil characteristics, climate, water availability, farm management capability, financial resources, available inputs and economic incentives lead to differences in method, extent and rapidity of soil reclamation. Although technical literature abounds with sound information on the subject, nonetheless, there are far too many partial or complete failures of efforts to reclaim salt-affected soils. These failures, due largely to lack of proper identification and subsequent use of incorrect reclamation methods, result in losses of both money and potential increases in crop production. This publication presents a brief summary of information which will be particularly useful in the proper identification, reclamation and management of soils with problems caused by the presence of excess salts. Salt-affected soils occur in all continents and under almost all climatic conditions. Their distribution, however, is relatively more extensive in the arid and semi-arid regions compared to the humid regions. The nature and properties of these soils are also diverse such that they require specific approaches for their reclamation and management to maintain their long term productivity. For any long-term solutions, it is, therefore, necessary to understand the mode of origin of salt-affected soils and to classify them, keeping in view the physico-chemical characteristics, processes leading to their formation and the likely approaches for their reclamation and successful management.
2.1 Origin of salts
The presence of excess salts on the soil surface and in the root zone characterizes all saline soils (Plate 1). The main source of all salts in the soil is the primary minerals in the exposed layer of the earth’s crust. During the process of chemical weathering which involves hydrolysis, hydration, solution, oxidation, carbonation and other processes, the salt constituents are gradually released and made soluble. The released salts are transported away from their source of origin through surface or groundwater streams. The salts in the groundwater stream are gradually concentrated as the water with dissolved salts moves from the more humid to the less humid and relatively arid areas. The predominant ions near the site of weathering in the presence of carbon dioxide will be carbonates and hydrogen-
carbonates of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium; their concentrations, however, are low. As the water with dissolved solutes moves from the more humid to the arid regions, the salts are concentrated and the concentration may become high enough to result in precipitation of salts of low solubility. Apart from the precipitation, the chemical constituents of water may undergo further changes through processes of exchange, adsorption, differential mobility, etc., and the net result of these processes invariably is to increase the concentration in respect of chloride and sodium ions in the underground water and in the soils. Russian workers (Kovda, 1965) recognize the following sequence of changes in the composition of groundwater in relation to their concentrations (Table 1) as the water moves from humid to arid areas. Similar trends are observed with regard to the chemical composition of groundwater in India.
Plate 1 A typical saline soil in India
Table 1 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE QUANTITY OF SALTS IN NATURAL WATERS IN RELATION TO THEIR COMPOSITION (Kovda, 1965)
Nature of water Siliceous waters - completely fresh waters containing silica and organic substances Fresh calcium-bicarbonate waters Sodium bicarbonate waters Sodium-bicarbonate and carbonate waters containing sulphate and less often chlorides Chloride-sulphate waters Chloride waters Total salt concentration, g/I 0.01 to 0.1 0.2 to 0.3 0.5 to 0.7 0.5 to 3.0 2.5 to 5.0 >5
Table 2 CHARACTERISTICS OF AN UNIRRIGATED SOIL PROFILE FROM A SEMIARID TRACT, HISSAR, INDIA (Abrol, unpublished data)
Depth cm 0 - 10 10 - 20 20 - 43 43 - 88 152 - 208 208 - 228 Clay % 17.3 18.5 19.0 32.5 40.8 35.8 pHs* ECe (dS/m) 8.0 1.4 7.9 0.8 7.9 0.8 8.1 1.5 7.7 4.8 7.7 11.0
* pHs - pH measured on soil saturated paste. Geologic materials are highly variable in their elemental composition and some materials are higher in salts than others. Shales, especially those of marine origin, can supply large quantities of soluble salts when traversed by water. Thus the kinds of geologic formations through which the drainage water passes significantly influence the composition and total concentration of salts.
Salts released through weathering in the arid regions with limited rainfall are usually deposited at some depth in the soil profile, the depth depending on such factors as the water retention capacity of the soil, seasonal, annual and maximum rainfall, etc. (Yaalon, 1965). If the salts are deposited beyond the rooting zone of most crops, say below 150 cm, they rarely affect the crops adversely unless they are redistributed and accumulate in the surface soil layers (Table 2). Salt-affected soils generally occur in regions that receive salts from other areas and water is the primary carrier. Although the weathering of rocks and minerals is the source of all salts, rarely are the salt-affected soils formed from the accumulation of salts in situ.
In the course of accumulation of knowledge on the nature, characteristics and plant growth relationships in salt affected soils, two main groups of these soils have been distinguished (Szabolcs, 1974). These are: i. Saline soils - Soils containing sufficient neutral soluble salts to adversely affect the growth of most crop plants. The soluble salts are chiefly sodium chloride and sodium sulphate. But saline soils also contain appreciable quantities of chlorides and sulphates of calcium and magnesium. ii. Sodic soils - Soils containing sodium salts capable of alkaline hydrolysis, mainly Na2CO3, these soils have also been termed as ‘Alkali’ in older literature. These two main groups of salt-affected soils differ not only in their chemical characteristics but also in their geographical and geochemical distribution, as well as in their physical and biological properties. The two categories also require different approaches for their reclamation and agricultural utilization. In nature the various sodium salts do not occur absolutely separately, but in most cases either the neutral salts or the ones capable of alkaline hydrolysis exercise a dominant role on the soil-forming processes and therefore in determining soil properties. The distinguishing features of these two broad groups of saltaffected soils are presented in Table 3. Although the above two categories account for a very large fraction of salt affected soils the world over, there are transitional or borderline formations which are likely to have properties intermediate between those of the two broad categories. Several local terms in different parts of the world are in vogue to designate such soils. Other categories of salt-affected soils which, though less extensive, are commonly met in different parts of the world are: i. Acid-sulphate soils These are soils that have somewhere within a 50 cm depth a pH below 3.5 to 4.0 that is directly or indirectly caused by sulphuric acid formed by the oxidation of pyrite (FeS 2) or, rarely of other reduced sulphur compounds. Potential acid sulphate soils occur in tidal swamps. They have high levels of pyrite, low levels of bases and produce strongly acid sulphate soils when pyrite is oxidized to sulphuric acid after drainage (Pons, 1973). Pyrite formation is favoured in brackish and saline mangrove swamps dissected by tidal creeks
where deposition and build up of coastal sediments is slow. Apart from high salinity, the productivity of acid sulphate soils is restricted due to such soil factors as iron and aluminium toxicities, deficiency of phosphorus, etc. ii. Degraded sodic soils Degraded sodic soils are usually considered to be an advanced stage of soil development resulting from the washing out of salts. The details of the type of soil developed as the leaching proceeds depends on local conditions, particularly soil texture and type of clay present. As a result of the leaching processes there is a tendency for the dispersed clay and organic matter to move down the profile resulting in the formation of a dark, extremely compact layer having a sharply defined upper surface and merging gradually into the subsoil with increasing depth. The darker colour of the compact layer compared with the layer above may be due to its higher clay content since it does not always have a higher content of organic matter. The upper soil layers have a loose porous, laminar structure due to loss of clay and the upper surfaces of this layer may be paler than the lower, possibly because of silica being deposited on them. The clay pan cracks on drying into well defined vertical columns having a rounded top and smooth, shiny, well defined sides. These can be broken into units about 10 cm high and 5 cm across with a flat base. Below this the column breaks into rather smaller units with flat tops and bottoms which on light crushing break into angular fragments. As the leaching of these desalinized soils proceeds, the upper horizons deepen and often become slightly acidic in reaction and the amorphous silica content increases. As a further stage of development, it has been suggested that the very characteristic clay pan becomes less pronounced, possibly because of washing down of sandy material from the A horizon in the cracks between the structural units. There are large areas in western Canada (Toogood and Cairns, 1973; Cairns and Bowsa, 1977), Australia (Northcote and Skene, 1972), USA (Rasmussen et al., 1964) and other countries where soils having profile morphology typical of solonetz/solod soils are found although sodium forms only a minor proportion of the exchangeable ions. It is possible that these soils originally had enough exchangeable sodium for the solonetz-solod morphology to develop in the profile but that most of this sodium has now been lost through leaching. iii. A large number of sub-categories of salt-affected soils are recognized in different parts of the world depending on the dominance of a particular chemical constituent (e.g. calcium chloride rich soils or soils containing excessive quantities of exchangeable magnesium magnesium solonetz, etc.) or a particular morphological character of the soil profile, e.g. presence of a structural ‘B’ horizon, etc. Table 3 DISTINGUISHING FEATURES OF SALINE AND SODIC SOILS
Characteristics Saline soils Sodic soils 1. Chemical a. Dominated by neutral soluble salts a. Appreciable quantities of neutral soluble salts consisting of chlorides and sulphates generally absent. Measurable to appreciable of sodium, calcium and magnesium. quantities of salts capable of alkaline hydrolysis, e.g. Na2CO3, present. b. pH of saturated soil paste is less b. pH of the saturated soil paste is more than
8.2. c. An exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) of 15 or more is the generally accepted limit above which soils are classed as ‘sodic’. Electrical conductivity of the saturated soil extract is generally less than 4 dS/m at 25 °C but may be more if appreciable quantities of Na2CO3 etc. are present. d. There is generally no well-defined d. There is a well defined relationship between relationship between pH of the pH of the saturated soil paste and the saturated soil paste and exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) of the exchangeable sodium percentage soil or the SAR of the saturation extract for an (ESP) of the soil or the sodium otherwise similar group of soils such that the pH adsorption ratio (SAR) of the can serve as an approximate index of soil saturation extract. sodicity (alkali) status. e. Although Na is generally the e. Sodium is the dominant soluble cation. High dominant soluble cation, the soil pH of the soils results in precipitation of soluble solution also contains appreciable Ca and Mg such that their concentration in the quantities of divalent cations, e.g. Ca soil solution is very low. and Mg. f. Soils may contain significant f. Gypsum is nearly always absent in such soils. quantities of sparingly soluble calcium compounds, e.g. gypsum. 2. Physical a. In the presence of excess neutral a. Excess exchangeable sodium and high pH soluble salts the clay fraction is result in the dispersion of clay and the soils have flocculated and the soils have a stable an unstable structure. structure. b. Permeability of soils to water and b. Permeability of soils to water and air is air and other physical characteristics restricted. Physical properties of the soils are generally comparable to normal become worse with increasing levels of soils. exchangeable sodium/pH. 3. Effect on plant In saline soils plant growth is In sodic soils plant growth is adversely affected: growth adversely affected: a. chiefly through the effect of excess a. chiefly through the dispersive effect of excess salts on the osmotic pressure of soil exchangeable sodium resulting in poor physical solution resulting in reduced properties; availability of water; b. through toxicity of specific ions, e.g. b. through the effect of high soil pH on nutritional Na, Cl, B, etc.; imbalances including a deficiency of calcium; c. through toxicity of specific ions, e.g. Na, CO3, Mo, etc. 4. Soil Improvement of saline soils Improvement of sodic soils essentially requires improvement essentially requires removal of the replacement of sodium in the soil exchange soluble salts in the root zone through complex by calcium through use of soil leaching and drainage. Application of amendments and leaching and drainage of salts amendments may generally not be resulting from reaction of amendments with required. exchangeable sodium. 5. Geographic Saline soils tend to dominate in arid Sodic soils tend to dominate in semi-arid and distribution and semi-arid regions. sub-humid regions. 6. Ground-water Groundwater in areas dominated by Groundwater in areas dominated by sodic soils quality saline soils has generally high has generally low to medium electrolyte electrolyte concentration and a concentration and some of it may have residual
than 8.2. c. An electrical conductivity of the saturated soil extract of more than 4 dS/m at 25 °C is the generally accepted limit above which soils are classed as ‘saline’.
potential salinity hazard.
sodicity so has a potential sodicity hazard.
2.3 Mode of formation
Although weathering of rocks and primary minerals is the chief source of all salts, saltaffected soils rarely form through accumulation of salts in situ. The major factors responsible for the formation of two principal categories of salt-affected soils are discussed below:
2.3.1 Saline soils
i. Use of saline groundwater: When groundwater is the only source available for irrigation, high salinity of the irrigation water can cause a build up of salts in the root zone, particularly if the internal drainage of the soils is restricted and leaching, either due to rainfall or applied irrigation, is inadequate. ii. Saline seeps, common in North America, Australia and other countries, are the result of excessive leaching that results from reduced evapotranspiration after a change in land use from a natural forest vegetation to a cereal grain crop or a shift in cropping pattern such as the introduction of a fallow season in a grain farming system. The percolating water passing through saline sediments is intercepted by impermeable horizontal layers and conducted laterally to landscape depressions causing extensive soil salinization (Doering and Sandoval, 1976). iii. Salinity problems are also caused by the ingress of sea water through tidal waves, underground aquifers or through wind transport of salt spray. Soluble salts have also been continually exchanged between land and sea - most transfer of salts from the sea taking place through the uplift of marine sediments and exposure on the earth’s surface. For soils of semi-arid regions where rainfed agriculture is practised, serious salinity problems can arise if the rainfall is only approximately equal to the evapotranspiration and soluble salts are present in the root zone from either marine deposits or other sources. iv. Salinity problems are most extensive in the irrigated arid and semi-arid areas. In every river basin, prior to the introduction of irrigation, there exists a water balance between the rainfall on the one hand and stream flow, groundwater level and evaporation and transpiration on the other. This balance is disturbed when large additional quantities of water are artificially spread on the land for agriculture. An important new contribution to groundwater is introduced in the form of seepage from irrigation channels, from irrigation water added over and above the quantities actually utilized for meeting the evapotranspirational needs of crops, and obstructions in the natural drainage brought about by new developments in the area. These new additions to the groundwater will raise the subsoil water level or may form a perched water table. Studies (Gardner and Fireman, 1958; Sharma and Prihar, 1973) have shown that once the water table is within 1 to 2 m of the soil surface, it can contribute significantly to evaporation from the soil surface and therefore to the root zone salinization. Salinization problems can be more severe when the salinity of groundwater is high, as is usually the case in arid regions.
v. Localized redistribution of salts can often cause salinity problems of a significant magnitude. Soluble salts move from areas of higher to lower elevations, from relatively wet to dry areas, from irrigated fields to adjacent unirrigated fields, etc. Salts may also accumulate in areas with restricted natural drainage caused by the construction of roads and rail lines or other developmental activities. Evaporation of stagnant waters may leave considerable amounts of salts on the soil surface.
2.3.2 Sodic soils
The mechanisms responsible for the formation of sodium carbonate in soils which characterize sodic (alkali) soils have been discussed in several standard works (Kelly, 1951; Bazilevich, 1965). Groundwater containing carbonate and bicarbonate is one of the chief contributing factors in the formation of sodic soils in many regions. Sodic soils occur in Egypt in Wadi Tumilat, Ferhash and Wadi-El-Natroun. The soils are reported to have formed by desalinization in the absence of enough divalent cations in some parts of the Nile Delta, by high carbonate and bicarbonate water in Wadi Tumilat and by denitrification and sulphate reduction under anaerobic conditions in Wadi-El-Natroun (Elgabaly, 1971). Reduction of sulphate ions under anaerobic conditions and in the presence of organic matter was reported to result in the formation of sodium carbonate (Whittig and Janitzky, 1963). According to Bhargava et al. (1980) the alternate wet and dry seasons and the topographic (drainage) conditions appeared to be the contributing factors in the formation of vast areas of sodic soils in the Indo-Gangetic plains of India (Plate 2). During the wet season water containing products of alumino-silicate weathering accumulated in the low lying areas. In the ensuing dry season, as a result of evaporation, the soil solution is concentrated resulting in some precipitation of the divalent cations, causing an increase in the proportion of sodium ions in the soil solution and on the exchange complex with simultaneous increase in pH. This process repeated over years resulted in the formation of sodic soils. Plate 2 Extensive areas of sodic lands lying barren in Northern India Beek and Breemen (1973) pointed out that highly sodic soils could be developed in a closed basin with an excess of evaporation over precipitation if the inflowing water has a positive residual sodicity. Similarly, groundwater containing residual sodicity could result in the formation of sodic soils when the groundwater table is near the surface and contributes substantially to evaporation.
There are extensive areas of salt-affected soils on all the continents but their extent and distribution has not been studied in detail. In some countries even the existence of these soils was discovered only through a survey or the pressing demand for agricultural utilization of a region. A first attempt to compile information on the extent of salt-affected soils on a worldwide basis was made by F. Massoud based on the FAO/Unesco Soil Map of the World; information in Table 4 is based on this study. Information in respect of countries in Europe is based on publications by Szabolcs (1974, 1979). Szabolcs (1979) has also presented maps showing the distribution of salt-affected soils in most continents. Any
attempt to increase food production in coming years must pay adequate attention to the improvement of existing salt affected soils with little or no production and to prevent further deterioration of productive soils through these degradation processes. Table 4 WORLD DISTRIBUTION OF SALT-AFFECTED AREAS
Continent North America Country Area, 1 000 ha Saline/Solonchaks Sodic/Solonetz 264 6 974 5 927 2 590 316 1 649 32 473 53 139 5 233 716 4 141 362 5 000 3 642 907 387 20 008 1 894 21 1 240 1 741 3 021 129 440 86 5 009 670 2 417 5 850 7 360 10 608 425 150 200 118 525 194 4 410 448 362 44 2 457 37 1 287 2 770 640 1 148 562 1 751 1 389 665 5 837 26 765 307 Total 7 238 8 517 316 1 649 85 612 5 949 4 503 8 642 907 387 21 902 21 1 240 1 741 3 150 526 5 679 8 267 7 360 11 033 150 318 525 194 4 858 406 2 457 1 324 2 770 640 1 148 2 313 1 389 6 502 26 765 307
Canada USA Mexico and Central America Cuba Mexico South America Argentina Bolivia Brazil Chile Colombia Ecuador Paraguay Peru Venezuela Africa Afars and Issas Algeria Angola Botswana Chad Egypt Ethiopia Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Kenya Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Madagascar Mali Mauritania Morocco Namibia Niger Nigeria Rhodesia Senegal Sierra Leone
North and Central Asia
Somalia Sudan Tunisia United Rep. of Cameroon United Rep. of Tanzania Zaire Zambia Afghanistan Bangladesh Burma India Iran Iraq Israel Jordan Kuwait Muscat and Oman Pakistan Qatar Sarawak Saudi Arabia Sri Lanka Syrian Arab Rep. United Arab Emirates China Mongolia USSR Democratic Kampuchea Indonesia Malaysia Socialist Rep. of Vietnam Thailand Australia Fiji Solomon Islands
1 569 2 138 990 2 954 53 3 103 2 479 634 23 222 26 399 6 726 28 180 209 290 10 456 225 1 538 6 002 200 532 1 089 36 221 4 070 51 092 1 291 13 213 3 040 983 1 456 17 269 90 238
4 033 2 736 671 583 863 538 574 686 437 119 628 339 971 -
5 602 4 874 990 671 3 537 53 863 3 101 3 017 634 23 796 27 085 6 726 28 180 209 290 10 456 225 1 538 6 002 200 532 1 089 36 658 4 070 170 720 1 291 13 213 3 040 983 1 456 357 240 90 238
Source: Massoud, 1977
Continent Europe Area, 1000 ha Potential Total Saline/Solonchaks Sodic/Solonetz Salt affected Soils Europe Czechoslovakia 6.2 14.5 85.0 105.7 France 175.0 75.0 250.0 Hungary 1.6 384.5 885.5 1 271.6 Italy 50.0 400.0 450.0 Rumania 40.0 210.0 250.0 Spain / / / 840.0 Country
7 546.0 20.0
21 998.0 235.0
17 781.0 47 325.0 255.0
Source: Szabolcs, 1974
3.1.1 Measuring salinity status 3.1.2 Salinity and plant growth
The distinguishing characteristic of saline soils from the agricultural standpoint, is that they contain sufficient neutral soluble salts to adversely affect the growth of most crop plants. For purposes of definition, saline soils are those which have an electrical conductivity of the saturation soil extract of more than 4 dS/m at 25°C (Richards 1954). This value is generally used the world over although the terminology committee of the Soil Science Society of America has lowered the boundary between saline and non-saline soils to 2 dS/m in the saturation extract. Soluble salts most commonly present are the chlorides and sulphates of sodium, calcium and magnesium. Nitrates may be present in appreciable quantities only rarely. Sodium and chloride are by far the most dominant ions, particularly in highly saline soils, although calcium and magnesium are usually present in sufficient quantities to meet the nutritional needs of crops. Many saline soils contain appreciable quantities of gypsum (CaSO4, 2H2O) in the profile. Soluble carbonates are always absent. The pH value of the saturated soil paste is always less than 8.2 and more often near neutrality (Abrol et al., 1980). Physico-chemical characteristics in respect of a few typical saline soil profiles are presented in Tables 5-8. Excess salts keep the clay in saline soils in a flocculated state so that these soils generally have good physical properties. Structure is generally good and tillage characteristics and permeability to water are even better than those of non-saline soils. However, when leached with a low salt water, some saline soils tend to disperse resulting in low permeability to water and air, particularly when the soils are heavy clays. Leaching may also result in a slight increase in soil pH due to lowering of salt concentration but saline soils, as will be shown later, rarely become strongly sodic upon leaching if there is an adequate drainage system. In field conditions, saline soils can be recognized by the spotty growth of crops and often by the presence of white salt crusts on the surface. When the salt problem is only mild, growing plants often have a blue-green tinge. Barren spots and stunted plants may appear in cereal or forage crops growing on saline areas. The extent and frequency of bare spots is often an indication of the concentration of salts in the soil. If the salinity level is not sufficiently high to cause barren spots, the crop appearance may be irregular in vegetative vigour. Moderate salinity, however, particularly if it tends to be uniform throughout the field, can often go undetected because it causes no apparent injuries other than restricted growth. Leaves of plants growing in salt infested areas may be smaller and darker blue-green in
colour than the normal leaves. Increased succulence often results from salinity, particularly if the concentration of chloride ions in the soil solution is high. Plants in salt-affected soils often have the same appearance as plants growing under moisture stress (drought) conditions although the wilting of plants is far less prevalent because the osmotic potential of the soil solution usually changes gradually and plants adjust their internal salt content sufficiently to maintain turgor and avoid wilting. Symptoms of specific element toxicities, such as marginal or tip burn of leaves, occur as a rule only in woody plants. Chloride and sodium ions and boron are the elements most usually associated with toxic symptoms. Non-woody species may often accumulate as much or more of these elements in their leaves without showing apparent damage as do the woody species. Table 5 CHARACTERISTICS OF TYPICAL SALINE SOILS * pHS - pH measured on soil saturated paste. Table 6 TYPICAL SALINE SOIL REPRESENTING ADDALA SERIES, IRAQ (Sehgal, 1980)
Mechanical Composition % Organic Matter % 1.1 0.9 0.6 0.6 0.5 Clay <2 m 39 40 43 37 37 Silt (250 m) 46 46 51 52 55 Composition of the Saturation Extract me/l Na+ 20 48 66 106 123 Ca++ 78 70 30 40 32 Mg++ 30 30 28 26 38 Cl111 123 87 93 105 SO4 16 20 42 68 96 2.7 6.7 12.0 18.0 22.0
Depth cm 0 - 15 15 - 37 37 - 66 66 127 127 136
ECe pHs dS/m Sand (50 m - 2 mm) 15 7.4 12 14 7.6 13 6 7.9 10 11 8 7.9 7.9 14 15
Table 7 TYPICAL SALINE SOIL REPRESENTING ABU-HALANA SERIES, IRAQ (Sehgal 1980)
Mechanical Composition % Depth cm 0 - 17 17 - 57 57 - 85 85 - 108 108 - 123 Organic Clay Silt (2Matter % <2m 50 m) 1.1 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.5 49 53 48 51 45 49 46 52 48 54 ECe Sand (50 pHs dS/m m-2 mm) 2 7.0 49 1 7.2 49 1 7.4 45 1 7.5 39 1 7.7 48 Composition of the Saturation Extract me/l SAR Na
SO4 26 36 68 62 96
320 378 366 355 488
164 160 90 70 60
178 178 166 126 188
618 648 540 468 165
24 29 41 35 44
Table 8 TYPICAL SALINE SOIL REPRESENTING HAMZA-KAZIN SERIES, IRAQ (Sehgal 1980)
Mechanical Composition % Organic Matter % 1.3 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.2 Clay <2 m 38 37 27 14 15 Silt (250 m) 56 55 66 29 32 Composition of the Saturation Extract me/l Na
Depth cm 0 - 17 17 - 48 48 - 75 75 128 128 150
ECe pHs dS/m Sand (50 m - 2 mm) 6 7.5 75 8 8.0 33 7 8.1 26 57 53 8.2 8.3 14 14
SAR 40 44 41 31 28
690 330 282 141 123
280 78 42 20 20
320 32 50 20 18
1 140 315 216 78 78
258 100 144 96 88
3.1.1 Measuring salinity status
The effect of dissolved salts on plant growth depends on their concentration in the soil solution at any particular time but it is extremely difficult to measure the soil solution concentration at the usual field moisture contents due to sampling problems. A simplified procedure consists of mixing a soil sample with sufficient water to produce a saturated paste and then extracting the solution for measurement of conductivity. Measuring the electrical conductivity (EC) of a saturation extract has an advantage in that saturation percentage is directly related to field moisture range. Over a considerable textural range, saturation percentage is approximately four times the moisture content held at fifteen atmospheres which closely approximates the wilting percentage. The soluble salt concentration in the saturation extract therefore tends to be about one-half of the concentration of the soil solution at the upper end of the field available moisture range and about one-fourth the concentration that the soil solution will have at the dry end of the available moisture range (Richards, 1954). The standard unit of conductance is siemens (see Table 9) and when expressed per unit of distance, the standard unit of conductivity is siemens per metre. The conductivity of most saturation paste extracts is only a fraction of a siemens per metre. For convenience, therefore, conductivities of soil extracts are expressed in deci Siemens (mS) per metre at 25°C. EC measurements are quick and sufficiently accurate for most purposes. To determine EC the solution is placed between two electrodes of constant geometry and constant distance of separation. When an electrical potential is imposed, the amount of current varies directly with the total concentration of dissolved salts. At constant potential, the current is inversely proportional to the solution’s resistance and can be measured with a resistance bridge. Conductance is the reciprocal of resistance and has the unit Siemens (formerly, mhos). The measured conductance is the result of the solution’s salt concentration and the electrode geometry. The effects of electrode geometry are embodied in the cell constant and this is related to the distance between electrodes divided by their effective cross
sectional area. The cell constant is commonly obtained by calibration with KCl solutions of known concentration. The conductivity of standard KCl solutions is available in handbooks. Several empirical relationships have been developed for converting one type of analysis to another. Some of these, summarized in Table 9, are useful for routine verification of data consistency. The four electrode technique for measuring bulk soil electrical conductivity has been developed (Rhoades, 1976) for use on irrigated soils and on dry land saline seeps in the field. This is a relatively new technique that has great potential for measuring soil salinity in the field without soil sampling and subsequent laboratory analysis. The technique can be used to great advantage for diagnosis and monitoring salinity changes due to season or cultural practices including cropping, etc.
3.1.2 Salinity and plant growth
Excess soil salinity causes poor and spotty stands of crops, uneven and stunted growth and poor yields, the extent depending on the degree of salinity. The primary effect of excess salinity is that it renders less water available to plants although some is still present in the root zone. This is because the osmotic pressure of the soil solution increases as the salt concentration increases. Apart from the osmotic effect of salts in the soil solution, excessive concentration and absorption of individual ions may prove toxic to the plants and/or may retard the absorption of other essential plant nutrients. Table 9 SOME USEFUL CONVERSION FACTORS
Note: The SI unit of conductivity is ‘Siemens’ symbol ‘S’ per metre. The equivalent non-SI unit is ‘mho’ and 1 mho = 1 Siemens. Thus for those unused to the SI system mmhos/cm can be read for dS/m without any numerical change. Conductivity 1 S cm-1 (1 mho/cm) = 1000 mS/cm (1000 mmhos/cm) 1 mS/cm-1 (1 mmho/cm) = 1 dS/m = 1000 mS/cm (1000 micromhos/cm) Conductivity to mmol (+) per litre: mmol (+)/1 = 10 × EC (EC in dS/m) for irrigation water and soil extracts in the range 0.1-5 dS/m. Conductivity to osmotic pressure in bars: OP = 0.36 × EC (EC in dS/m) for soil extracts in the range of 3-30 dS/m. Conductivity to mg/l: mg/l = 0.64 × EC x 103, or (EC in dS/m)
mg/l = 640 × EC for waters and soil extracts having conductivity up to 5 dS/m. nmol/l (chemical analysis) to mg/l: Multiply mmol/l for each ion by its molar weight and obtain the sum.
There is no critical point of salinity where plants fail to grow. As the salinity increases growth decreases until plants become chlorotic and die. Plants differ widely in their ability to tolerate salts in the soil. Salt tolerance ratings of plants are based on yield reduction on saltaffected soils when compared with yields on similar non-saline soils. Soil salinity classes generally recognized are given in Table 10. Table 10 SOIL SALINITY CLASSES AND CROP GROWTH
Soil Salinity Class Non saline Slightly saline Moderately saline Strongly saline Very strongly saline Conductivity of the Saturation Extract (dS/m) 0-2 2-4 4-8 8 - 16 > 16 Effect on Crop Plants Salinity effects negligible Yields of sensitive crops may be restricted Yields of many crops are restricted Only tolerant crops yield satisfactorily Only a few very tolerant crops yield satisfactorily
3.2 Reclamation and management
3.2.1 Salt leaching 3.2.2 Drainage
3.2.1 Salt leaching
The amount of crop yield reduction depends on such factors as crop growth, the salt content of the soil, climatic conditions, etc. In extreme cases where the concentration of salts in the root zone is very high, crop growth may be entirely prevented. To improve crop growth in such soils the excess salts must be removed from the root zone. The term reclamation of saline soils refers to the methods used to remove soluble salts from the root zone. Methods commonly adopted or proposed to accomplish this include the following: Scraping: Removing the salts that have accumulated on the soil surface by mechanical means has had only a limited success although many farmers have resorted to this
procedure. Although this method might temporarily improve crop growth, the ultimate disposal of salts still poses a major problem. Flushing: Washing away the surface accumulated salts by flushing water over the surface is sometimes used to desalinize soils having surface salt crusts. Because the amount of salts that can be flushed from a soil is rather small, this method does not have much practical significance. Leaching: This is by far the most effective procedure for removing salts from the root zone of soils. Leaching is most often accomplished by ponding fresh water on the soil surface and allowing it to infiltrate. Leaching is effective when the salty drainage water is discharged through subsurface drains that carry the leached salts out of the area under reclamation. Leaching may reduce salinity levels in the absence of artificial drains when there is sufficient natural drainage, i.e. the ponded water drains without raising the water table. Leaching should preferably be done when the soil moisture content is low and the groundwater table is deep. Leaching during the summer months is, as a rule, less effective because large quantities of water are lost by evaporation. The actual choice will however depend on the availability of water and other considerations. In some parts of India for example, leaching is best accomplished during the summer months because this is the time when the water table is deepest and the soil is dry. This is also the only time when large quantities of fresh water can be diverted for reclamation purposes. i. Quantity of water for leaching It is important to have a reliable estimate of the quantity of water required to accomplish salt leaching. The initial salt content of the soil, desired level of soil salinity after leaching, depth to which reclamation is desired and soil characteristics are major factors that determine the amount of water needed for reclamation. A useful rule of thumb is that a unit depth of water will remove nearly 80 percent of salts from a unit soil depth. Thus 30 cm water passing through the soil will remove approximately 80 percent of the salts present in the upper 30 cm of soil. Similarly, to reduce the salt content of the surface 60 cm of soil to about 20 percent of the original value would require the passage of about 60 cm of water through the soil. For more reliable estimates, however, it is desirable to conduct salt leaching tests on a limited area and prepare leaching curves. Leaching curves (Figure 1) relate the ratio of actual salt content to initial salt content in the soil (Sa/Sb) to the depth of leaching water per unit depth of soil (Dw/Ds). Results of leaching tests on three soils in Iraq (Dieleman, 1963) presented in Figure 1 show the effect of soil type on the quantity of water required to achieve the same extent of leaching. Results of one such test (Khosla et al., 1979) are presented in Figure 2 (a and b) and some of the soil characteristics of the experimental site are given in Table 11. Figure 2a shows the actual salt distribution following the passage of different quantities of water while Figure 2b relates the depth of water per unit soil depth to the fraction of salts leached (leaching curve). Information on these aspects is important when planning reclamation of large areas. Figure 1 Typical leaching curves for soils in Iraq (Dieleman, 1963)
Figure 2a Effect of passage of different quantities of water on salt distribution (Khosla et al., 1979)
Figure 2b The leaching curve using data from Figure 2a. Subscript ‘O’ indicates leaching, ‘eq’ represents equilibrium value of electrical conductivity in existing irrigated conditions
Table 11 SOIL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LEACHING SITE (Khosla et al., 1979)
Depth cm Texture 0-15 15-30 30-45 45-60 60-75 75-90 SL* SL SL SL SL SL Bulk Density ECe dS/m (g/cm3) 1.49 63.8 1.61 19.3 1.55 14.0 1.56 12.9 1.55 12.1 1.58 12.2 pHS 8.1 7.6 7.5 7.6 7.9 8.1 Saturation Extract Composition me/I Na+ (Ca+Mg)2+ Cl975 125.7 645 246 48.5 131 164 39.1 74 150 38.1 64 180 38.6 74 142 28.2 67 SAR 123 50 37 34 41 38
* SL = Sandy Loam ii. Water application method
Results from several laboratory experiments (Miller et al., 1965; and Nielsen and Biggar, 1961) and some field trials (Biggar and Nielsen, 1962; Nielsen et al., 1966; and Oster et al., 1972) have shown that the quantity of salts removed per unit quantity of water leached can be increased appreciably by leaching at soil moisture contents of less than saturation, i.e. under unsaturated conditions. In the field unsaturated conditions during leaching were obtained by adopting intermittent ponding or by intermittent sprinkling at rates less than the infiltration rate of the soil. Nielsen et al. (1966) for example, showed that 25 cm of sprinkled water reduced the salinity of the upper 60 cm of soil to the same degree as 75 cm of ponded water. Figure 3 Effect of method of irrigation and water redistribution following irrigation2 and evaporation on the salt concentration3 profiles (Bresler and Hanks, 1969) (flooding)
Figure 3 Effect of method of irrigation and water redistribution following irrigation2 and evaporation on the salt concentration3 profiles (Bresler and Hanks, 1969) (sprinkler)
The salt concentration profiles in a flooded and a sprinkler irrigated soil are demonstrated in Figure 3. In both irrigation methods, at the end of irrigation, upper parts of the soil profiles have low concentration of salts and these will depend on the salt concentration of the applied irrigation water. The salt in the profile increases to a maximum value close to the wetting front and drops to its initial value below the wetting depth. Because of a slower wetting rate under sprinkling, the zone of complete leaching at the end of irrigation extends more deeply into the profile than under flood irrigation. When the soil is subjected to evaporation, water carrying salts moves simultaneously in the upward and downward directions. Thus some salts continue to move down with the redistributed water and, at the same time, salts near the surface move towards the soil surface where they accumulate. The amount of salts which move to the surface depend on the amount of salts present in the upper soil layers from where the water can flow upwards. Thus only a small fraction of salts move up during evaporation from the soil previously irrigated by sprinklers. In flooded soils, on the other hand, more salts move upward and accumulate in the soil surface. iii. Amendments Whether an amendment (e.g. gypsum) is necessary or not for the reclamation of saltaffected soils is a matter of practical importance. Saline soils are dominated by neutral soluble salts and at high salinities sodium chloride is most often the dominant salt although calcium and magnesium are present in sufficient amounts to meet the plant growth needs. Since sodium chloride is most often the dominant soluble salt, the SAR of the soil solution of saline soils is also high (Table 11). Figure 4 shows the effect of leaching such a soil with
a low electrolyte (EC 0.25 dS/m) water on the resulting SAR of soil solution. The data in this Figure demonstrate that an increasing passage of water resulted in desalinization and simultaneous desodication, i.e. reduction in soil solution SAR although, compared to desalinization, a somewhat greater quantity of water was required to attain the same degree of desodication. When a soil solution is diluted by a factor X, the reduced ratio
will decrease by a factor . This implies that desodication will always accompany desalinization. A favourable calcium to sodium ratio of the irrigation water and any supply of inherent calcium from the soil is likely to further accelerate the desodication process. Figure 5 shows the distribution of salts and SAR changes when leached with, and without, application of gypsum. It is seen that the salt displacement was about the same in the two treatments, the depth of water applied being 35 cm. While the upper soil layers had nearly the same resultant SAR after leaching, the SAR of the soil solution of deeper soil layers was somewhat lower in the case of gypsum treatment. But since the desalinization and desodication processes proceed simultaneously, it is expected that the SAR of the profile resulting from leaching with gypsum could also be achieved with leaching alone if more water was passed through the soil. The desodication curve (Figure 4) indicates that with an additional 16 cm of leaching water, the SAR of the soil profile could be reduced to the level of the SAR of gypsum treated soil. Dieleman (1963) and Leffelaar and Sharma (1977) also reported that an amendment may not be needed for reclamation of saline soils having high SAR. The effect of gypsum application on the infiltration rate of a saline soil upon leaching shows in Figure 6 a higher cumulative intake when gypsum was applied. These studies indicate that the application of an amendment, per se, might not be essential for either desalinization or desodication but could hasten the process by maintaining a higher infiltration rate by continuously supplying soluble calcium to the leaching water. Thus, the decision to use an amendment for the reclamation of saline soils having excess neutral soluble salts and a high SAR of soil solution (the so called saline-sodic soils) would depend on soil infiltration characteristics and the electrolyte level of the irrigation water. Light textured soils and those having a favourable infiltration rate are not likely to respond to gypsum application. In heavy textured soils, and where such soils are leached with low electrolyte water, application of an amendment is desirable to hasten reclamation. When any large-scale reclamation is undertaken, the need for application of amendments and their quantities must be established by trials on an experimental scale. Figure 4 Changes in SAR in relation to depth of leaching water per unit depth of soil. Subscript ‘O’ indicates before leaching and ‘eq’ represents equilibrium value of SAR under existing soil-irrigation water conditions (Khosla et al., 1979)
Figure 5 Effect of gypsum and leaching on salt displacement and SAR (Khosla et al., 1979) Figure 6 Effect of gypsum application on cumulative infiltration in a saline soil. a with, b - without gypsum.
Irrigation is the most effective means of stabilizing agricultural production in areas where the rainfall is either inadequate for meeting the crop requirements or the distribution is erratic. Before the introduction to an area of large quantities of water through irrigation, there exists a water balance between the rainfall on the one hand and stream flow, groundwater table, evaporation and transpiration on the other. This balance is serously disturbed when additional quantities of water are artificially spread on the land to grow agricultural crops, introducing (Plates 3, 4a, 4b) additional factors of groundwater recharge from seepage from canals, distributors and field channels, most of which are unlined, and from the irrigation water let on to the fields over and above the quantities actually utilized by the crops, etc. As a result of these, the groundwater table rises. There are numerous instances throughout the world, where consequent upon the introduction of canal irrigation, the water table has risen considerably within 10 years to less than 2 m. Once the groundwater table is close to the soil surface, due to evaporation from the surface, appreciable movement of the groundwater takes place resulting in the accumulation of salts in the root zone. A schematic relationship between depth of groundwater and evaporation from the soil surface is shown in Figure 7. This relationship is significant and shows that there is a critical depth of water table above which there is a sharp increase in the evaporation rate and therefore soil salinization. In general, the critical depth of water table ranges between 1.5 to 3.0 metres depending on soil characteristics, root zone of crops, salt content of groundwater, etc: To ensure a saltfree root zone, evaporation from the groundwater must be prevented thus keeping the groundwater table below the depth that will cause rapid soil salinization. Provision of adequate drainage measures is the only way to control the groundwater table. Subsurface drainage problems may also arise due to the presence, at some soil depth, of a clay barrier, a hardpan, bed rock, or even a subsoil textural change.
In many areas drainage problems also arise because of the accumulation and stagnation of rainfall or excess irrigation water on the soil surface. Surface drainage problems usually arise due to slopes that are too flat or to slow water penetration because of structural instability of the soils or to uneven land. Temporary water stagnation in standing crops results in problems of aeration, disease, weed control and nutrient supply. Proper land shaping and provision of surface drains are needed to solve the problems of surface water stagnation. The experience of some countries in tackling drainage problems and the nature and properties of various drainage materials are described in two FAO publications (FAO, 1971a; 1972). Plate 3 An unlined field channel; such channels are highly conducive to water loss through seepage Figure 7 A schematic relationship between the depth of groundwater and relative evaporation rate from soil surface
Plate 4a Lining a field channel to reduce water loss Plate 4b A canal lined to reduce water loss i. Surface drainage In surface drainage, ditches are provided so that excess water will run off before it enters the soil. However the water intake rates of soils should be kept as high as possible so that water which could be stored will not be drained off. Field ditches empty into collecting
ditches built to follow a natural water course. A natural grade or fall is needed to carry the water away from the area to be drained. The location of areas needing surface drainage can be determined by observing where water is standing on the ground after heavy rain. Field ditches and collection or outlet ditches should be large enough to remove at least 5 cm of water in 24 hours from a level to a gently sloping land. The capacity of a drainage system should be based on the amount and frequency of heavy rains. How quickly water runs into ditches depends on the rate of rainfall, land slope and the condition of the soil surface including the plant cover. The area that a ditch can satisfactorily drain depends on how quickly water runs into the ditch, the size of the ditch, its grade or slope and its irregularity. The latter is measured by the roughness and the contents of debris and growing vegetation in the ditch. In relatively level areas (slope < 0.2%) a collecting ditch may be installed along one side and shallow v-shaped field ditches constructed to discharge into this collecting ditch. Field ditches used to discharge water into collecting ditches should be laid out parallel to each other 20 to 60 m apart. They should be 30 to 45 cm deep depending upon the depth of the collecting ditch. Care should be taken to avoid sharp curves in the ditches to lessen erosion of the banks. Before planning a detailed surface drainage of an area a standard handbook on the subject should be consulted (for example, ILACO, 1981). ii. Subsurface drainage If the natural subsurface drainage is insufficient to carry the excess water and dissolved salts away from an area without the groundwater table rising to a point where root aeration is affected adversely and the groundwater contributes appreciably to soil salinization, it may be necessary to install an artificial drainage system for the control of the groundwater table at a specified safe depth. The principal types of drainage systems may consist of horizontal relief drains such as open ditches, buried tiles or perforated pipes or in some cases pumped drainage wells (Plate 5). a. Open ditches: Open drainage ditches are advantageous for removing large volumes of either surface or subsoil water from land and for use where the water table is near the surface and the slope is too slight for proper installation of tile drains. Where subsurface tile drains are uneconomic or physically impossible, as in many heavy clay soils and where the topography is nearly flat, open drains may be the only practical means of draining the land. Open ditches also serve as outlets for tile drains where their depth is sufficient and other conditions are favourable. The chief disadvantage of open drains is that they occupy land that might otherwise be put to cultivation; open ditches across cultivated fields also obstruct farming operations and are a danger to the livestock and are more costly to maintain than the subsurface covered drains. Open drains become ineffective due to growth of weeds, collapse of banks resulting in partial filling with soil material, etc., and must be periodically cleaned. b. Mole drains: these are channels left by a bullet shaped device pulled through the soil, they have been used successfully for shallow subsurface drainage of heavy clay soils in many, relatively humid, parts of Europe but have been found impractical with soils of coarser texture. Mole drains are generally cheaper to install than tile or plastic tubings but
may last only for two or three years. In addition to being temporary, mole drains are generally shallow and have not been used extensively where salinity build up from the groundwater table is a major problem. c. Other subsurface drains: These include any type of buried conduit with open joints or perforations that collect and convey excess water from the soil. The conduits may be made from clay, concrete, plastic or other synthetic material but clay and concrete tiles have been the most widely used. Clay tiles are generally manufactured in 30 and 60 cm lengths and have an inside diameter of 10 to 25 cm. They are made from surface clay or shale, which is pulverized, extruded through a die, dried and then burnt in a kiln. Clay tiles are not affected by acid or sodic soils but those made from surface clay or poorly burnt tiles are subject to deterioration by freezing and thawing action. Good quality clay tiles have been found to last indefinitely in the soil. Concrete tiles are made from sand and gravel aggregate and steam or water-cured to obtain the desired strength. Concrete tiles are resistant to freezing and thawing but may be subject to deterioration in acid and sodic soils. For such soils the tiles should be made with cement having a special chemical composition. Water enters the tiles at the butt joints or spaces between adjacent sections. Both clay and concrete tiles may have fitted ends and be perforated for easier entry of water. All drain tiles should meet standard specifications. Since the nineteen sixties, thermoplastic tubing has become a common drain material. High density polyethylene and polyvinylchloride are the two most common materials. The plastic tubing is corrugated and, unlike clay or concrete tiles, flexible and will deflect vertically when soil is backfilled in the trench. As it deflects, the sides of the tubing move outward horizontally into the surrounding soil. The circular tubing changes to a slight oval shape, which becomes stabilized because the soil on the sides of the tubing resists the further outward movement. Corrugations in the tubing provide sufficient stiffness to resist the initial soil load. They also reduce the amount of plastic required to make the tubing as well as provide flexibility which permits the smaller size tubing to be coiled into a compact package. Plastic drain pipes are generally available in 8 to 30 cm diameters and usually come in rolls of 75 to 80 m long depending on the diameter of the tubing. Corrugated plastic tubing weighs only 1/25 of a concrete or clay tile, resists practically all soil chemicals and can be installed in continuous lengths. Compared to concrete and clay tiles, greater care is required in placing soil around plastic- tubing because of deflection. Water enters the drain tube through sawed slits or cut holes spaced uniformly around and along the tube. Plate 5 Laying a tile drain iii. Filter materials These are sometimes placed around subsurface drains primarily to prevent the inflow of soil into the drains which may cause failure, and/or to increase the effective diameter or area of openings in the drains which increases inflow rate. Two types of materials are generally used: - thin sheets such as of fibre glass or spun nylon, and - sand and gravel envelopes or other porous granular materials.
The thin sheet filters may be sealed on to the plastic tubing at the manufacturing site or they may be installed above and/or below the drains as they are being laid. Granular materials should be placed above or below the drains during installation. Such materials must have the proper gradation of sizes to prevent the inflow of soil. The principal factors affecting the costs involved in installing subsurface drainage systems in large areas are the spacing and depth of drains. Many mathematical equations have been developed to arrive at the optimum depth and spacing for drains but in practice these have found limited application because of the difficulty and high cost of obtaining soil hydraulic conductivity data and related soil and crop interactions. For these reasons the depth and spacing of drains are based largely on experience and judgement (Schwab et al., 1966). Subsurface tile or plastic drains are relatively permanent when correctly installed and protected. Large-scale subsurface drainage systems have been in operation in the western United States for nearly fifty years. Extensive installations for water table and salinity control are now being made in many countries including Iraq, Egypt, Australia, etc. iv. Pump drainage The chief drawback of gravity drainage systems is their inability to lower the water table to an adequate depth. Pumping groundwater in areas where a suitable permanent aquifer exists is often an effective means of lowering the water table. A decision to pump groundwater for drainage is generally favoured by adequate depths and permeabilities of the water bearing formations, by high values of pumped water for irrigation and by low power costs (see section 4.8.1 on drainage of sodic soils). To determine if pumping would be effective, pumping tests have to be carried out in test wells to determine the feasibility and area of influence by measuring water levels in adjacent observation wells or piezometers. Spacing, depth, and capacity of the pumped wells and other operational details also need to be evaluated from these tests. v. Maintenance of drainage systems After a subsurface drainage system has been installed, a suitable map should be made and filed with the property deed. The map should show the location of all ditches and subsurface drains, tile size and grade, depth and spacing. Any subsequent changes should also be recorded on the map. The record is of considerable value to the present and future land owners when the drainage system might need repairs or maintenance. A subsurface drainage system normally requires little maintenance if it is properly designed and installed. The outlet ditch should be kept free of the sediment and the tile outlet should be protected against erosion and undermining. If a drain line becomes filled with sediment or roots the line should be uncovered at some point downstream to locate the obstruction. If the line is not completely clogged and water is available the sediment can sometimes be flushed out. A suitable plug, swab or a rigid rod
can be used to remove the blockage. A high pressure water jet may be needed to clean out some lines. Often it is more economic to replace the entire plugged section. Roots of nearby trees can also block subsurface drains. For this reason shrubs and trees growing adjacent to a tile line should be removed. If the tile lines become filled with roots, it is best to dig up and replace the clogged section and remove the troublesome trees at the same time. The maintenance of open collecting ditches is most important and it is difficult. Weed growth must be controlled and the caving in of the sides requires continuous attention in order that the entire drainage system continues to work efficiently.
3.3 Crops in saline soils
3.3.1 Rice in saline soils 3.3.2 Factors influencing tolerance of crops to salinity 3.3.3 Water management 3.3.4 Nutrient availability and uptake by plants
Crop plants differ a great deal in their ability to survive and yield satisfactorily when grown in saline soils. Information on the relative tolerance of crops to a saline soil environment is of practical importance in planning cropping schedules for optimum returns. There are situations where farmers have to live with salinity problems, for example, in areas having saline water as the only source of water for irrigation. In other situations where good quality water is available for reclamation of saline soils, it is often helpful to grow crops simultaneously with reclamation efforts to make reclamation economic. There is much literature on the relative tolerance of different crops to soil salinity obtained under a vast range of soil, climatic and salinity conditions. As will be discussed in section 3.3.2, tolerance to salinity is not a fixed property of a species but varies with the growth stage of the crop, climatic conditions and within the same species for different varieties of the crop. These factors render the task of evaluating crop salt tolerance data difficult. Also the methodologies adopted by different workers for studying tolerance have varied from water culture experiments on the one extreme to field studies with little control on the root zone salinity on the other. Maas and Hoffman (1977) and Maas (1984) compiled and reviewed available data to arrive at the best assessment of the relative salt tolerance of agricultural crops. The information presented by these workers has now been extensively quoted and used for practical purposes. Salt tolerance data for several crops, as presented by Maas and Hoffman are reproduced in Figure 8 (a to h). These figures show that, in general, crop yields were not reduced significantly until a threshold salinity level was exceeded, and then the yields decreased approximately linearly as the salinity increased beyond the threshold. The salt tolerance curve for each crop was obtained by calculating a linear regression equation for the yield beyond the threshold point. From the curves
presented in these figures, (EC) relative yield (Y) (percent) at any given soil salinity can be calculated by the equation:
Y = 100 (ECo - ECe) where EC100 is ECo - EC100
the salinity threshold value (ECe where Y = 100) and EC the salinity at zero yield (ECe where Y = 0). Values of EC100 and ECo for a given crop can be taken from the appropriate figure. Taking cotton as an example, EC100 =8 dS/m and ECo =27.0 dS/m (Figure 8b). Therefore, the relative yield at an EC of say, 10 dS/m will be:
Y = 100 (27.0 - 10.0)/(27.0 - 8.00) = 100 (17.0)/(19.0) = 89 percent.
The shaded areas in Figures 8a to 8h indicate a qualitative salt tolerance rating for each crop. The five areas represent respectively, from left to right, sensitive, moderately sensitive, moderately tolerant, tolerant and unsuitable for crops. It was emphasized by Maas and Hoffman (1977), Maas (1984) and we wish to repeat that the relative tolerance of crops as depicted in Figures 8a to 8h does not represent the absolute salt tolerances independent of other factors. Only a guide is furnished to the relative tolerance of crops. Whereas actual tolerance will vary with climate, cultural practices and other variables, relative tolerance should apply under most conditions. Very often tolerance to saline and sodic conditions is not adequately differentiated and this can lead to inappropriate conclusions. The data in Figures 8a to 8h are for saline conditions and do not apply for sodic conditions. For example, barley is known to be a tolerant crop to saline conditions (Figure 8a) but is not a tolerant crop for sodic conditions. Similarly cotton, while tolerant of saline conditions, is only moderately so (or even sensitive at some growth stages) to sodic conditions. On the other hand, rice, though considered only moderately sensitive to saline conditions (Figure 8a), is highly tolerant of sodic conditions. Information on tolerance to sodic conditions is summarized in a subsequent section. Figure 8 (8a-h) Salt tolerance of crops (Maas and Hoffman, 1977) (a) Figure 8 (8a-h) Salt tolerance of crops (Maas and Hoffman, 1977) (b) Figure 8 (8a-h) Salt tolerance of crops (Maas and Hoffman, 1977) (c) Figure 8 (8a-h) Salt tolerance of crops (Maas and Hoffman, 1977) (d) Figure 8 (8a-h) Salt tolerance of crops (Maas and Hoffman, 1977) (e) Figure 8 (8a-h) Salt tolerance of crops (Maas and Hoffman, 1977) (f)
Figure 8 (8a-h) Salt tolerance of crops (Maas and Hoffman, 1977) (g) Figure 8 (8a-h) Salt tolerance of crops (Maas and Hoffman, 1977) (h)
3.3.1 Rice in saline soils
Although rice is not tolerant to excess salinity, it is a crop favoured in saline soils and, in fact, is preferred over other tolerant crops during the initial stages of reclamation of many saline soils. This is chiefly due to the system of lowland rice culture that is advantageous to the crop rather than to the tolerance of the crop to soil salinity. The system of lowland rice culture involving maintenance of standing water almost throughout the growing season brings about a significant reduction in the root zone salinity by leaching and dilution of the salts. Thus the crop is at no stage subjected to the salinity stress that might be indicated by the initial soil analysis. Rice is an important crop in many coastal regions and is grown during the rainy season. Although initially the soil salinity may be high, after one or two rains salinity is reduced in the upper few centimetres enabling planting of seedlings grown in a relatively good soil. Salinity is usually a greater constraint in the dry season when the evaporative demand is high and supply of good quality water restricted. Under these conditions when groundwater of high salinity must be used, salinity becomes a major constraint to obtaining satisfactory crop yields. Reclamation requires that the soluble salts from the profile are leached and drained through a suitable system of drainage, but good quality water is often a major constraint in arid regions. Therefore, leaching alone for prolonged periods is not justifiable and so a rice crop is conveniently grown during reclamation. Rice gives satisfactory yields even when the electrical conductivity of the saturated soil extract is 20 to 25 dS/m in the upper layers (Van Alphen, 1975; Yadav and Girdhar, 1981). Even on soils with low infiltration rates the accumulated depth of water percolating through the soil profile in one rice season may be 100 to 200 mm. Table 12 gives data on salinity changes due to cropping with rice. Although leaching under continuously ponded conditions has the disadvantage of being less efficient for salt leaching compared to intermittent irrigation, the benefit of simultaneous crop production makes rice an ideal crop during reclamation of saline soils. Table 12 CHANGES IN SOIL SALINITY DURING THE RECLAMATION OF A HIGHLY SALINE SOIL BY GROWING A RICE CROP (Van Alphen, 1975)
Soil Depth cm 0-10 10-20 20-40 40-60 60-80 80-100 dS/m Initial Before 1st rice crop After 1st rice crop After 2nd rice crop After 3rd rice crop 169.0 34.0 20.1 16.9 12.1 130.0 45.2 22.1 15.9 12.1 75.1 54.0 31.5 21.2 16.1 42.2 46.6 33.4 26.4 20. 33.8 42.2 35.5 29.0 22.7 30.2 40.9 36.5 30.4 24.2
Data in Table 13 gives the change in soil pH and SAR of the saturation extract during
reclamation. It can be seen that there was a continuous reduction in SAR and pH of the soil without an indication of the soil becoming truly sodic. Table 13 THE SAR VALUE MEASURED IN THE SATURATION EXTRACT AND THE pH (1:1) PRIOR TO AND DURING RECLAMATION (Van Alphen 1975)
Depth cm 0-10 10-20 20-40 40-60 60-80 80-100 Initial After 1st rice crop After 2nd rice crop After 3rd rice crop pH SAR pH SAR pH SAR pH SAR 7.4 90 7.8 25 7.3 13 7.3 14 7.5 85 7.9 29 7.5 17 7.3 14 7.8 73 7.9 40 7.7 28 7.6 24 8.0 57 8.0 48 7.7 38 7.5 33 8.1 52 7.9 54 7.6 45 7.5 35 8.0 46 7.8 53 7.6 47 7.5 39
3.3.2 Factors influencing tolerance of crops to salinity
Tolerance of plants to soil salinity is not a fixed characteristic of each species or a variety but may vary with the environmental conditions. The tolerance to salinity may even vary with the stage of crop growth of the same species. i. Growth stage Although some crops seem to tolerate salinity as well during seed germination as during later growth stages, germination failures are most commonly responsible for poor and spotty stands and bare spots in otherwise cultivated fields. Frequently this is not the result of crops being especially sensitive during germination, but rather is caused by exceptionally high salt concentration in the shallow surface zone where seeds are planted. These high salt concentrations result from the salt that is left behind as the upward moving water is evaporated near the soil surface. Most plants are more sensitive to salinity during germination than at any other growth stage. However, there are large variations in the sensitivity of germinating seeds to salinity as is depicted in Figure 9 where percentage germination of four plant species is plotted against the electrical conductivity of soil saturation-paste extract. It is seen that beans and sugarbeet are more sensitive to salts at germination than are alfalfa and barley. Information on the relative tolerance of rice to salinity at various growth stages was reviewed by Ikehashi and Ponnamperuma (1978). Most published work (Pearson, 1959, 1961; Kaddah and Fakkry, 1961) tends to indicate that while rice can tolerate a high concentration of salts at germination (up to 30 dS/m) it is sensitive to salinity in the early growth stages and that the tolerance increases with age during the tillering phase of growth. Tolerance to salinity at germination is usually not of much significance since in most rice growing areas rice is grown in a nursery in a good soil and then transplanted when the seedlings are 20 to 40 days old. The tolerance of rice decreases from panicle formation
stage to flowering stage such that salinity stress at this stage invariably results in reduced grain yields. It has been observed that the straw weight and total number of tillers is generally less affected than the grain yield and the number of productive tillers and that with increasing salinity the inflorescence was progressively delayed and the number of sterile spikelets increased (Kaddah, 1963; Murthy and Rao, 1967; Pearson et al., 1966). Figure 9 Percent germination of four crops, as related to conductivity of the saturation extract of the soil, under laboratory conditions (Ayers and Hayward, 1949)
Maas and Hoffman (1977) reviewed data on tolerance of crops in relation to growth stage and showed that the tolerance pattern of barley, wheat and maize was nearly the same as that of rice. Sugarbeet and safflower, on the other hand, were sensitive during germination while the tolerance of soybean could either increase or decrease between germination and maturity depending on the crop variety. Table 14 depicts the large variations that exist in the tolerance to salinity of crops at two growth stages. Table 14 TOLERANCE OF CROPS TO SALTS AT TWO STAGES OF GROWTH (Canada Department of Agriculture, 1977)
Crop Barley Corn (maize) Wheat Alfalfa Sugarbeet Beans
Germination stage Very good Good Fairly good Poor Very poor Very poor
Established stage Good Poor Fair Good Good Very poor
ii. Environmental factors Climatic conditions greatly influence plant responses to salinity. Table 15 illustrates the effect of climatic conditions in a given saline environment. The data were obtained by growing plants in large outdoor sand cultures supplied with complete nutrient solutions adjusted to varying salinities. The basic nutrient solution had an electrical conductivity of about 1 dS/m. The salinity level at which a yield reduction of 25 percent was observed compared to control was determined graphically. All the three species studied showed greater tolerance to salinity at the location where the environment was coot and humid than at the location where the environment was hot and dry. Furthermore, the order of tolerance changed from onions > beets > beans at the cool location to beets > onions > beans at the hot location. Table 15 RESPONSE OF THREE CROPS TO SALINITY IN SAND CULTURES AT TWO LOCATIONS
Solution salinity at which 25% yield reduction was observed dS/m Cool location Hot location Bean pods 4.0 3.0 Garden beetroots 11.1 6.6 Onion bulbs 12.5 3.3 Crop
In some parts of India rice is grown both during the rainy season (kharif) and during the dry season (rabi). Data in Table 16 are the relative average yields of eight rice varieties grown in kharif and rabi seasons at four salinity levels (Murthy and Janardhan, 1971). The data clearly indicate that the yield reduction with increasing salinity was much more in the dry than in the wet season. Table 16 EFFECT OF SEASON ON THE RELATIVE RICE YIELDS (Murthy and Janardhan, 1971)
yield Salinity of root zone dS/m Relative (approximate range) Wet Season Dry Season Control (non saline) 100 100 2-4 93 81 4-8 63 53 10-12 39 11
Note: Relative yields are comparable only within the same season.
Sinha and Singh (1974, 1976) studied the effect of transpiration rate on the accumulation of sodium and chloride ions near the root surface of maize and wheat crops under controlled conditions. Their studies showed that the sodium and chloride contents of the soil closely adhering to the roots were linearly related to the total amount of water transpired by the plants as well as the water transpired per unit root length. Based on these studies it was pointed out that the stress to which plants are subjected in saline soils would be determined by the evaporative demand during growth and could be much greater than that indicated by the electrical conductivity of the bulk soil. These results explain the observed differences in plant responses to salinity in different climatic conditions reported by several workers. Apart from the atmospheric evaporative demand, some workers (Hoffman et al., 1975) have shown that air pollution may increase the apparent salt tolerance of many crops. For example, with alfalfa, grown at ozone concentratons often prevalent in several agricultural areas, yields were highest at moderate salinity levels that normally reduced growth. Because some crops are affected more by air pollutants when grown under non-saline than under saline conditions, they may appear more salt tolerant in air polluted areas. iii. Varietal differences in salt tolerance Differences in varietal tolerance to salinity and other adverse soil conditions have been known to exist for decades but it is only in the latest decades that serious efforts have been initiated to exploit the genetic potential of salt-tolerant crop varieties through different breeding programmes. Rice has long been grown in the coastal regions of India and other countries where salinity is a perpetual problem due to inundations from the sea, and intrusion of sea water through rivers, estuaries, etc. Screening of a large range of rice germ plasm collected at different saline areas in India led to the identification of several genotypes that are extremely salt tolerant (Bhattacharya, 1976) (see Table 17). Table 17 SALT-TOLERANT RICE VARIETIES FROM DIFFERENT STATES IN INDIA (Bhattacharya, 1976)
State Andhra Pradesh Kerala Maharashtra Orissa West Bengal Tamil Nadu CSSRI, Canning Varieties MCM 1; MCM 2 Pokhali Kala Rata; Bhura Rata SR 26 B Matla, Hamilton PVR I Damodar, Dasal, Getu
Though most of these rice varieties are highly tolerant of salinity, all the varieties are tall indica and photosensitive types and have a low yield potential compared to the dwarf highyielding types. In recent years systematic breeding efforts have been made and some of the tolerant genotypes used extensively in a hybridization programme with high yielding lines to act as donors for salinity tolerance. Some of the cultures which have now been released for
large scale cultivation in the saline areas possess good agronomical traits in addition to tolerance to salinity. Apart from hybridization, mutation breeding approaches were tried and some promising cultures, Mut-1 (CSR4), evolved from the widely cultivated high-yielding variety IR-8 (Sinha and Borah, 1980). In recent years intensive efforts have been made at the International Rice Research Institute at Los Banos in the Philippines to breed varieties for tolerance to various adverse soil conditions and many advanced lines in IRRI’s breeding programme show tolerance for one or more adverse soil factors (Ponnamperuma, 1977; Ikahashi and Ponnamperuma, 1978). Researchers at the University of California at Davis are breeding barley for culture with sea water irrigation (Epstein, 1976). Lines have been developed which survive and set seed (yields in the order of 1188 kg/ha) under irrigation with undiluted sea water. Similar breeding is underway with wheat. The same researchers screened for salt tolerance in tomato cultivars with little success. However a wild tomato, Lycopersicon cheesmannii, collected from sites close to the shore on the Galapagos Islands was able to survive in saline culture equivalent in salinity to sea water. While the fruit of the wild species is too small for commercial use, F-progeny of crosses of the wild species and commercial cultivars include segregates with acceptable fruit size (similar to cherry tomatoes) and tolerance to a salinity equivalent to one-third that of sea water (Epstein, 1976). Shannon (1978) screened for salt tolerance 32 accessions of tall wheatgrass, Agropyron elongatum (Host) Blauv., a forage grass used on the western rangelands of the United States. He classified plants by ability to recover from salt stress and identified seven tolerant genotypes from diverse geographic origins for continued selection. A long-term programme of evaluation and selection of avocado rootstocks for tolerance of salinity has resulted in the development of very successful avocado orchards in regions with saline irrigation water in Israel (Kadman and Ben-Ya’Acova, 1976). Efforts are also being made in different parts of the world to induce tolerance to salinity in other field crops. Rana et al. (1980) indicated the promising role of polyploid breeding in evolving crop varieties suited to problem soils. It is apparent that breeding crop varieties tolerant to salinity offers significant opportunities for better management of areas where salinity is a perpetual problem. Figure 10 Effect of increasing salinity level on the chloride content of leaves of six citrus root stocks (Cerda et al., 1977)
iv. Rootstocks and salinity tolerance Most fruit crops are more sensitive to salinity than are field, forage or vegetable crops (Figure 8h). Grapes, citrus, stone fruits, pome fruits, berries and avocados are all relatively sensitive to salinity. However, certain stone-fruits, citrus and avocado rootstocks differ in their ability to absorb and transport sodium and chloride ions and have, therefore, different salt tolerance. Cerda’ et al. (1977) studied the effect of sodium chloride in the irrigation water on the foliar contents of chloride and sodium of six citrus rootstocks, viz., Sour orange (Citrus aurantium L.), Troyer citrange (Poncirus trifoliata x Citrus sinensis), Cleopatra mandarin (Citrus reticulata Blanco), Allemow (citrus macrophylla Wester), Nanshodaidai (Citrus taiwanica) and Kinnow mandarin (Citrus nobilis Loureiro x Citrus deliciosa Tenore). Their results showed that mandarin as a group was characterized by a marked capacity to exclude chloride ions while the sour orange and Troyer citrange varieties, in general, accumulated high amounts of chloride ions (Figure 10). Similar results were earlier reported by Cooper (1961) and other investigators. Bernstein (1965) pointed out that for many fruit crops damage to the plants could be related to the concentration of specific ions, e.g. chloride or sodium in the soil solution and/or plant leaves rather than to the total soil salinity. Thus, the specific injury symptoms appeared before any effect of total salt concentration was observed. For instance, a chloride level of 10 mmol/l in a saturated paste extract is considered toxic to sensitive rootstocks although the same rootstock can tolerate a higher total salinity if it is not due to chloride salts. For this reason, classification of fruit crops with respect to specific salinity according to varieties and rootstocks is important. Such a tolerance classification was presented by Bernstein (1965) and is reproduced in Table 18. Table 18 TOLERANCE OF FRUIT VARIETIES AND ROOT STOCKS TO CHLORIDE LEVELS (Bernstein, 1965)
Rootstock/Variety Rootstocks Rangpur lime, Cleopatra mandarin rough lemon, tangelo, sour orange sweet orange, citrange Marianna Lovell, Shalil Yunnan West Indian Mexican Varieties Thompson seedless, Perlette Cardinal, Black rose Boysenberry Olallie blackberry Indian Summer raspberry Lassen Shasta
Limit of tolerance to chloride in soil saturation extract mmol/l 25 15 10 25 10 7 8 5 20 10 10 10 5 8 5
Citrus (Citrus spp.)
Stone fruit (Prunus spp.)
Avocado (Persea americana Mill.) Grape (Vitis spp.)
Berries (Rubus spp.)
Strawberry (Fragaria spp.)
Most fruit crops are also sensitive to other toxic elements, particularly boron. This ion is present in most irrigation water and in saline soils. It is toxic to many plants at a concentration only slightly in excess of that required for optimum growth. Small quantities of boron absorbed by the roots are accumulated by the leaves and values above 250 ppm result in typical leaf burns. A grouping of plants according to their relative tolerance to boron is presented in Table 45. The data show that fruit crops, in general, are more sensitive to boron in irrigation water and soils compared to field crops. Significant reductions in yield of most field crops due to excess boron alone under field conditions have rarely been reported.
3.3.3 Water management
i. Irrigation frequency Modifying water management through appropriate irrigation practices can often lead to increased crop yields under saline soil conditions. Most plants require a continuous supply of readily available moisture to grow normally and produce high yields. After an irrigation the soil moisture content is maximum and the salt concentration or the osmotic pressure of the soil solution is minimal: favourable for crop growth. As the soil progressively dries out due to evapo-transpirational losses the concentration of salts in the soil solution and, therefore, its osmotic pressure increases making the soil water increasingly difficult to be absorbed by the plants. Thus infrequent irrigation aggravates salinity effects on growth. On the other hand, more frequent irrigations, by keeping the soil at a higher soil moisture content prevent the concentration of salts in the soil solution and tend to minimize the adverse effects of salts in the soil. For these reasons crops grown in saline soils must be irrigated more
frequently compared to crops grown under non-saline conditions so that the plants are not subjected to excessively high soil moisture stresses due to combined influence of excess salts and low soil water contents. Figure 11 depicts changes in the total soil moisture stress to which the growing plants are subjected in a non-saline soil compared to a saline soil. Several studies have shown that growth of plants was reduced nearly proportionally to the areas under the curves. Thus, when the areas under two such dissimilar stress curves as A and B were equal, the growth of plants was found to be reduced to nearly the same level. If the saline soils were irrigated infrequently plants would be subjected to very high soil moisture stresses with consequent yield losses. Figure 11 Changes in total moisture stress in a saline and a non-saline soil in the interval between two irrigations
ii. Irrigation method
Irrigation method can play an important role in controlling salts in the root zone. It has been discussed that frequent irrigations are helpful in saline soils in maintaining adequate availability of soil water. Sprinkler irrigation is an ideal method for irrigating frequently and with small quantities of water at a time. Leaching of soluble salts is also accomplished more efficiently when the water application rates are lower than the infiltration capacity of the soil and such a condition cannot be achieved by flood irrigation methods. In a field experiment (Nielsen et al., 1966) flood irrigation required three times as much water as sprinkling to reduce soil salinity by the same increment. Sprinkler irrigation also has the advantage that small local differences in the level of the field will not cause non-uniform water application and salt leaching. In the trickle or drip irrigation method water is supplied continuously at a point source and in the immediate vicinity of plant roots. The method is suitable for perennial or seasonal row crops; it has been found particularly useful when irrigating with water of high salinity. The method has the advantage that it keeps the soil moisture continuously high in the root zone, therefore maintaining a low salt level. The roots of the growing plants tend to cluster in the high soil moisture zone near the tricklers and therefore avoid the salts that accumulate at the wetting front. Results of field trials to compare sprinkler and drip irrigation methods using water of two qualities are presented in Table 19. The good quality water had an electrical conductivity of 0.4 dS/m and the saline water an electrical conductivity of 3 dS/m. Table 19 EFFECT OF IRRIGATION METHOD AND WATER QUALITY ON THE YIELD OF TOMATOES, t/ha (Goldberg et al., 1976)
Irrigation method Drip Sprinkler Electrical conductivity of water dS/m 0.4 3.0 66.7 65.0 52.0 39.2
The yield difference between the two methods of water application was greater when saline water was used. Further, the yield obtained by the drip method with saline water was almost equal to that produced when the high quality water was applied by this method. A more favourable distribution of salts in the soil profiles with drip irrigation in comparison with the sprinkler and furrow methods was also shown at the end of the growing season on a sweet corn plot (Figure 12), although in the drip irrigation method appreciable salt accumulation is likely to occur between the rows depending on the inter and intra row space between the drip points. Although sprinkler and trickle irrigation methods are highly efficient, both from the view of water use and salinity control, their high initial costs often preclude their use in regions where transport infrastructure and markets are not highly developed. A soil factor of considerable importance in relation to growth of plants is the location of salts in relation to root zone or seed placement. Irrigation practices can often be modified to obtain a more favourable salt distribution in relation to seed location or growing roots. It is well known that salts tend to accumulate in the ridges when using furrow type irrigation. The direction of movement of applied water and dissolved salts (arrows) is shown in Figure 13. With each irrigation salts leach out of the soil under the furrows and build up on the ridges.
Where soil and farming practices permit, furrow planting may help in obtaining better stands and crop yields under saline conditions. Figure 12 Salinity profiles in sweet corn under drip, sprinkler and furrow irrigation methods (Goldberg et al., 1976)
Figure 13 Direction of salt flow and salt accumulation in furrow irrigation. The zone of maximum salt accumulation is in the top of the ridges
Figure 14 The pattern of salt build-up depends on bed shape and irrigation method. Seeds sprout only when they are placed so as to avoid excessive salt build-up around them (Bernstein et al., 1955) Certain modifications of the furrow irrigation method including planting in single/double rows or on sloping beds, are helpful in getting better stands under saline conditions. Typical patterns of salt accumulation under different types of beds are shown in Figure 14. With double beds, most of the salts accumulate in the centre of the bed leaving the edges relatively free of salts. Sloping beds may be slightly better on highly saline soils because seed can be planted on the slope below the zone of salt accumulation. iii. Mulching During periods of high evapotranspiration between the two irrigations and during periods of fallow there is a tendency for the leached salts to return to the soil surface. Soil salinization is particularly high when the water table is shallow and the salinity of groundwater is high. Any practices that reduce evaporation from the soil surface and/or encourage downward flux of soil water will help to control root zone salinity. Sandoval and Benz (1966) and Benz et al. (1967) studied soil salinity changes as effected by bare fallow and straw mulch on fallow over a three years period. Their results showed that on bare fallow a soil mulch should be maintained to induce salinity reduction. Under straw mulch there was a significant reduction in soil salinity which resulted in an increased wheat yield of 25 to 50 bushels per
hectare in an area where the normal wheat yields were about 62 bushels per hectare. Fanning and Carter (1963) reported significant reduction in root zone salt concentration of plots where cotton-burr mulch had been applied at the rate of 90 tons per hectare. These workers also reported that periodic sprinkling of mulched soils resulted in greater salt removal and therefore higher leaching efficiency than did flooding or sprinkling of bare soil (Carter and Fanning, 1964). iv. Other practices Crops vary not only in their tolerance to salinity but also in their water requirements, optimum growth season, rooting depth and moisture extraction pattern and cultural requirements. Thus, in the absence of proper water and soil management practices, salinity of the soil may be affected differentially under various crop rotations. Cropping sequences which include crops such as rice, berseem and those requiring frequent irrigations reduce salinity effectively, where drainage is adequate. Therefore knowledge of the expected salt balance of the root zone under various crop rotations will be extremely helpful in planning the best cropping sequences during and after reclamation (Massoud, 1976). Changes in the micro relief in the order of a few centimetres can result in increasing the salt content on the raised spots and better leaching in the dips. Proper land shaping before cropping can help to correct these elevation differences. Land levelling that results in the formation of shallow profiles or an exposure of an impervious layer close to surface may enhance salinization. Since this operation is executed at an early stage in new surface irrigation projects, it should be carefully evaluated as a possible cause of salinization. Tillage is another mechanical operation that is usually carried out for seed bed preparation and soil permeability improvement but if it is improperly executed it might form a plough layer or turn a salty soil horizon and bring it closer to the soil surface. Proper monitoring of changes in the soil will help the timely adoption of corrective mesures for the control of salinity that might otherwise be accentuated.
3.3.4 Nutrient availability and uptake by plants
Apart from the effect on water availability to plants and the possible toxic effect of some constituents, excess neutral soluble salts in soils may also interfere with the normal nutrition of crops in saline soils. At a given level of salinity, growth and yield of crops are likely to be depressed more when nutrition is disturbed than when it is normal. At moderate salt concentrations in the soil solution, plants generally try to exclude unwanted ions, as far as possible, and promote the uptake of nutrients. With increasing salt concentration, the uptake of sodium and chloride ions increases sharply. This luxury consumption of ions is essential for the plants to compensate for the increased outside osmotic pressure but is responsible for growth retardation. Excessive uptake of certain ions, in turn, often results in reduced uptake of some essential plant nutrients causing nutrient imbalances and deficiencies. Thus, although the available status of a nutrient in a soil might not be in a deficient range per se, its application might compensate for the decreased uptake by plants resulting from the antagonistic effect of excess uptake of certain ions. Results of several studies tend to show that deficiencies of the elements K and Ca appear to play an important
role in the observed growth depressions in many saline soils (Finck, 1977). Proper fertilization of soils of low or medium salinity should serve to: - supplement nutrients that are present in insufficient amounts; - supplement nutrients that, although present in sufficient amounts, are not taken up in adequate amounts due to antagonistic effects, e.g. K or Ca; and decrease the uptake of harmful ions, e.g. K against Na or phosphate against chloride (Rankovitch and Porath, 1967; Chhabra et al., 1976). High salinity may interfere with the growth and activity of the soil’s microbial population and thus indirectly affect the transformation of essential plant nutrients and their availability to plants. Reduced symbiotic N fixation due to the toxic effect of salts on rhizobia has been reported (Bernstein and Ogata, 1966; Bhardwaj, 1975). Graham and Parker (1964) observed that normal rhizobia associated with pea can tolerate a maximum salinity up to 4.5 dS/m. Other factors likely to influence the N-fertilization of crops grown in saline soils include high leaching losses of N as NO3, decreased nitrification rates due to high salinity and the direct toxic effect of ions such as chloride on the bacterial activity. In many saline soils, water tables close to the surface can greatly modify the nutritional needs- of crops. Studies brought out that it was possible to compensate for high water tables by applying N fertilizers to cereals (Figure 15), sugarbeets, potatoes, etc. Figure 15 Schematic diagram showing the effect of fertilization for correction of an unbalanced and insufficient nutrient supply to plants in saline soils; the columns indicate the plant contents (Nutrient supply without fertilization) (Finck, 1977)
Figure 15 Schematic diagram showing the effect of fertilization for correction of an unbalanced and insufficient nutrient supply to plants in saline soils; the columns indicate the plant contents (Nutrient supply with fertilization) (Finck, 1977)
There have been only a limited number of studies on the effect of salinity on the nutrition of crops in respect of micronutrients. A disturbed balance in the uptake and composition of major nutrients is bound to influence the plant composition of micronutrients. Besides the generally known toxic effects of boron there is a need to understand better the behaviour of Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, etc., in relation to soil salinity particularly with a view to establishing limiting values - so far only developed for normal soils. Figure 15 schematically demonstrates how a well-adjusted fertilization could improve the yields of crops (Finck, 1977). Figure 16 shows the inverse relationship observed between available soil phosphorus and the chloride content of wheat straw in pot studies (Singh et al., 1979). Fine and Carson (1954) observed that the application of P increased yields of crops markedly and alleviated salt injury symptoms in oats and barley. They observed a 400 percent increase in yield with a saline soil in spite of its having high available P. Ferguson and Berlin (1963) reported that much higher responses of applied phosphorus occurred on a moderately saline than on a non-saline soil of comparable available P status. Dregne and Mojallali (1969) reported that the beneficial effect of applied P to wheat and barley crops was limited up to an ECe of 9 dS/m. These observations show that higher plant responses to applied P occur on moderately saline than on non-saline soils. Responses to applied P-fertilizers in saline soils cannot be explained on the basis of soil test values alone as the saline soils, even when containing high amounts of extractable P have shown positive responses to applied phosphorus. This is because in saline soils the availability of P is more a function of plant root length and area (which is restricted due to salinity) and the negative effect of excess chlorides on P absorption by roots. Application of judicious quantities of P-fertilizers in saline soils helps to improve crop yields by directly providing phosphorus and by decreasing the absorption of toxic elements like Cl. Figure 16 Effect of available soil phosphorus on the chloride content of wheat straw (Singh et al., 1979)
On moderately saline soils, the application of potassic fertilizers may increase the crop yields (Dregne and Mojallali, 1969) either by directly supplying K or by improving its balance with respect to Na, Ca and Mg. However under high salinity conditions it is difficult to exclude Na effectively from the plant by use of K-fertilizers.
4. SODIC SOILS AND THEIR MANAGEMENT
4.1 Characteristics 4.2 Measuring sodicity/alkali status of soils 4.3 Sodic soils and plant growth 4.4 Reclamation and management 4.5 Crops in sodic soils 4.6 Factors influencing tolerance of crops to exchangeable sodium 4.7 Nutrient requirements of crops 4.8 Water management
The chief characteristic of sodic soils from the agricultural stand point is that they contain sufficient exchangeable sodium to adversely affect the growth of most crop plants. For the purpose of definition, sodic soils are those which have an exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) of more than 15. Excess exchangeable sodium has an adverse effect on the physical and nutritional properties of the soil, with consequent reduction in crop growth, significantly or entirely. The soils lack appreciable quantities of neutral soluble salts but contain measurable to appreciable quantities of salts capable of alkaline hydrolysis, e.g. sodium carbonate. The electrical conductivity of saturation soil extracts are, therefore, likely to be variable but are often less than 4 dS/m at 25 °C. The pH of saturated soil pastes is 8.2 or more and in extreme cases may be above 10.5. Dispersed and dissolved organic matter present in the soil solution of highly sodic soils may be deposited on the soil surface by evaporation causing a dark surface which is why these soils have also been termed as black sodic soils. Under field conditions after an irrigation or rainfall, sodic soils typically have convex surfaces. The soil a few centimetres below the surface may be saturated with water while at the same time the surface is dry and hard. Upon dehydration cracks 1-2 cm across and several centimetres deep form and close when wetted. The cracks, generally, appear at the same place on the surface each time the soil dries unless it has been disturbed mechanically. The physico-chemical characteristics of two soil profiles are presented in Table 20. The principal cause of alkaline reaction of soils is the hydrolysis of either the exchangeable cations or of such salts as CaCO3, MgCO3, Na3CO3, etc. Hydrolysis of the exchangeable cations takes place according to the following reactions
In this reaction H+ is inactivated by exchange adsorption in place of Na+. The displaced Na does not combine with, or inactivate OH- ions which results in an increase in the OH- ion concentration and increased soil pH. The extent to which exchangeable cations hydrolyse depends on their ability to compete with H+ ions for exchange sites. Ions such as Na+ are unable to compete as strongly as the more tightly held ions such as Ca2+ and Mg2+. For this reason exchangeable Na+2 and K+2 are hydrolysed to a much greater extent and produce a higher pH than do exchangeable Ca2+ or Mg2+. Hydrolysis of exchangeable Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions, in fact, is so limited that it results in a soil having only by a mildly alkaline reaction. Hydrolysis of compounds like CaCO3, and MgCO3, takes place according to the reaction:
In this reaction H+ from water is inactivated through combination with carbonate to form weakly ionized carbonic acid. Hydroxyl ions are not inactivated through combination with Ca2+ resulting in an alkaline solution. The hydrolysis of CaCO3 and of MgCO3, is limited due to their low solubilities and therefore they tend to produce a pH in soils no higher than about 8.0 to 8.2. Soils containing measurable quantities of Na2CO3, have a pH of more than 8.2; the pH increases with increasing amounts of Na2CO3, and may be as high as 10.0 to 10.5.
This is due to the higher solubility of Na2CO3 and therefore the greater potential for hydrolysis. According to Cruz-Romero and Coleman (1975) exchangeable sodium and CaCO3 react in low CO2 - low neutral salt environments to produce high pH and appreciable concentrations of Na2CO3. Since the soils of arid and semi-arid regions nearly always contain some calcium carbonate, a build up in the exchangeable sodium in the absence of an appreciable quantity of neutral soluble salts will always result in high pH; the exact value depending on the concentration of Na2CO3, formed or the level of ESP. Table 20a CHARACTERISTICS OF A SODIC SOIL, KARNAL, INDIA (Bhargava Personal communication)
Depth cm clay CEC dS/m (<2m) me/100g % 8.2 8.0 1.9 1.4 1.0 0.9 22 29 33 31 27 23 10.2 12.8 14.8 14.6 11.2 9.8 Saturation extract composition (Ca+Mg)++ K+ CO3 - HCO3- Cl- SO4 me/l 0.4 0.2 30 37 13 6 0.4 0.1 27 41 15 6 0.6 0.1 2.5 9 6 3 0.5 0.1 2.2 8 3 2 0.8 0.1 2.2 5 3 1 1.0 0.1 1.5 5 3 1
ESP 97 94 90 85 68 39
0-5 10.3 5-24 10.3 24-56 9.8 56-85 9.8 85-118 9.6 118-140 9.2
85 84 18 14 10 9
pH measured on 1:2 soil-water suspension.
Table 20b CHARACTERISTICS OF A SODIC SOIL NEAR LAKE CHAD, REPUBLIC OF CHAD (Cheverry, C. quoted by Szabolcs, 1979)
Composition of 1:2 extract Depth cm pH EC dS/m Na+ (Ca + Mg)++ K+ CO3 - HCO3- Clme/100 g soil 0-3 10.0 17.5 48 tr 2.6 6.0 35 2.7 3-6 9.7 12.5 37 tr 2.0 5.2 26 2.4 10-15 8.8 5.9 13 1.3 0.9 0.6 8 1.0 16-26 8.3. 5.3 10 1.1 0.7 0.1 6 1.5 26-36 7.6 2.9 5 0.8 0.3 0 3 1.1 42-51 7.4 2.6 3 1.5 0.4 0 2 0.6 55-66 7.6 3.6 3 4.6 0.5 0 2 0.2
SO4 2.6 3.3 4.8 4.0 1.6 2.4 5.6
Figure 17 Relationship between the pH of saturated soil paste, and exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) (Abrol et al., 1980)
Abrol et al. (1980) and Bhargava and Abrol (1978) showed a relationship between the pH of the saturated soil paste and the exchangeable sodium percentage of the soils studied by them (Figure 17). Since pH can be relatively easily determined, these workers suggested that pH could be used as an approximate measure of the exchangeable sodium percentage. Several other workers (Agarwal and Yadav, 1956; Chang and Dregne, 1955; Kovda, 1965) also reported that pH and ESP are correlated. Gupta et al. (1981) pointed out that for soils containing sodium-carbonate type of salts the exchangeable sodium ratio (ESR) and pH were quantitatively related and that the-relationship governing their dependence can be derived from Na+ - (Ca + Mg)2+ exchange equilibria in soils. Based on these considerations and on published information, Abrol et al. (1980) suggested an approximate relationship between pH of saturated soil paste and ESP (Table 21) which can be used for inferring the approximate ESP of soil from pH measurements. Table 21 pH OF SATURATED SOIL PASTE AND APPROXIMATE ESP
pH of saturated soil paste Approximate ESP 8.0 - 8.2 5 - 15 8.2 - 8.4 15 - 30 8.4 - 8.6 30 - 50 8.6 - 8.8 50 - 70 8.8 70
The relationship between soil pH and ESP of the kind shown in Figure 17 (Table 21) exists only for specific kinds of sodic soils, that is, soil having measurable to appreciable quantities of salts capable of alkaline hydrolysis and having a saturated soil paste pH above 8.0. Such a relationship does not exist for saline soils,, i.e. soils dominated by neutral soluble salts, the pH of which is normally less than 8.0. Calcareous soils, even at very low ESP values, have a pH mainly determined by the ambient CO2, partial pressure (about 8.2 in contact with a standard atmosphere; about 1 unit lower under a high CO 2 concentration as in some water-saturated soils, and higher where CO2, pressures are lower). As this relationship is not a universal one and may only be applied for specific and similar conditions, it is not advisable to use pH as a general index of sodicity. For the purposes of definition, US Salinity Laboratory researchers (Richards 1954) had suggested a saturated soil paste pH of 8.5 or more for characterizing soils as ‘alkali’. In later publications however, the US scientists preferred the term ‘sodic’ to ‘alkali’ and in the definition of sodic soil a reference to soil pH was omitted. As already discussed, there is a relationship between pH and soil sodicity for soils containing calcium carbonate as do most soils of semi-arid regions. Studies (Gupta et al., 1982, 1983) have also shown that pH strongly influences the soil physico-chemical behaviour as distinct from the effect of exchangeable sodium on soil properties. For this reason these workers suggest that pH should be an integral part of the definition of sodic soils. An ESP of 15 is generally recognized as a limit above which the soils are characterized as sodic (alkali) (Richards, 1954). This limit, though tentative, has been increasingly found useful because many soils show a sharp deterioration in physical properties around or above this ESP (Abrol et al., 1978; Acharya and Abrol, 1978; Varallyay, 1977; Gardner et al., 1959), although for some soils a lower ESP (6) has been suggested as a limiting value (Northcote and Skene, 1972). A survey of published data (Abrol et al., 1980) showed that for sodic soils, most often an ESP of 15 to 20 is associated with a saturation paste pH of 8.2. For diagnostic purposes therefore it was suggested that a saturation paste pH of 8.2 will be more realistic than the value of 8.5 which is nearly always associated with higher values of ESP.
4.2 Measuring sodicity/alkali status of soils
4.2.1 pH measurement 4.2.2 Evaluating ESP 4.2.3 SAR as an index of sodicity hazards
4.2.1 pH measurement
pH measurement is a significant diagnosis of salt-affected soils but dependence of pH value upon the soil-water ratio of the suspension in which it is measured is frequently ignored in the reports and pH data are given with no indication of the dilution factor used.
Interpretation of such data is difficult, even impossible, pH data in Table 21 were measured on a saturated soil paste and Figure 18 gives the relationship between pH of saturated soil paste and pH of 1:2 soil-water suspension. It is seen that pH of 1:2 soil-water suspension is greater than the pH of saturated soil paste by about 1 unit. Thus for characterizing soils as sodic, if the pH is measured in 1:2 soil-water suspension, the limiting pH value will be about 9.0 instead of 8.2 as suggested above. Figure 18 Relationship between pH of saturation paste, pHs and pH of 1:2 soil-water suspension, pH2 for soil of varying ESP2
Highly saline soils have a pH of saturated soil paste around neutral because that is the pH of the neutral salts constituting most of the solutes in the soil solution. The influence of soil-water ratio and salinity on pH is illustrated in Figure 19 (Dregne, 1976). With a high soil-water ratio as represented by the saturated paste, the pH varied from 7.1 in the highly saline soil to 8.0 in the non saline soil. Diluting the system to give a soil-water ratio of 1:5 resulted in a pH of 7.8 for highly saline and 8.7 for the non saline soil. The difference between pH of the saturated paste and 1:2 or 1:5 soil-water suspension tends to be greater in sodic than in non-sodic or saline soils. This observation has led to the suggestion that a difference of about 1 pH unit between the two readings indicates that the soil contains more than 15 percent exchangeable sodium. This leads to the conclusion that when properly measured, pH can be used as a criterion for distinguishing sodic from normal and saline soils. Opinions vary as to the proper method of making pH readings but it is desirable to select a definite procedure and follow it closely, so that the readings will be consistent and have maximum diagnostic value. The method used should be described accurately so as to aid others in the interpretation of results. Figure 19 Soil pH as affected by soil-water ratio and the salinity status (Dregne, 1976)
4.2.2 Evaluating ESP
Every soil has a definite capacity to adsorb the positively charged constituents of dissolved salts, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, etc. This is termed the cation exchange capacity. The various adsorbed cations can be exchanged one for another and the extent of exchange depends upon their relative concentrations in the soil solution, the valency and size of the cation involved, nature and amounts of other cations present in the solution or on the exchange complex, etc. Exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) is, accordingly, the amount of adsorbed sodium on the soil exchange complex expressed in percent of the cation exchange capacity in milliequivalents per 100 g of soil. Thus, Exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP)
Experimental details for measuring ESP can be found in several publications (Richards. 1954; FAO, 1970; Hesse 1971). Measured values of cation exchange capacity and exchangeable cations can vary considerably depending on the method of determination adopted. Only the data determined by the same method can be compared, which implies that during survey and monitoring, the same laboratory methods must be adopted.
4.2.3 SAR as an index of sodicity hazards
Experimental determination of exchangeable sodium percentage is tedious, time consuming and subject to errors. Incomplete removal of index salt solution during the washing step of CEC determinations can lead to high CEC values and therefore low ESP estimates.
Similarly, hydrolysis of exchangeable cations during the removal of the index salt solution, fixing of ammonium ions from the index or replacement solution by the soil minerals and the dissolution of calcium carbonate or gypsum in the index or replacing solutions can all lead to low values of cation exchange capacity and therefore to high ESP estimates. Problems of CEC and ESP determinations are also encountered in soils of high pH containing zeolite minerals. These minerals, e.g. analcime, contain replaceable monovalent cations in their lattice which are readily replaced by monovalent cations used as the index or replacement cation resulting in unusually high values of ESP (Gupta et al., 1984). To overcome some of these difficulties several workers prefer to obtain an estimate of the exchangeable sodium percentage from an analysis of the saturated soil extract. Workers at the US Salinity Laboratory (Richards 1954) proposed that the sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) of the soil solution adequately defines the soil sodicity problem and is quantitatively related to the exchangeable sodium percentage of the soils. Sodium adsorption ratio, SAR, is defined by the equation:
where all concentrations are in mmol (+)/litre. Although some studies have shown that grouping calcium and magnesium in the above equation is not strictly valid, there appears only little loss of accuracy when this is done. Further, in many laboratories of the world calcium plus magnesium in the soil extracts and waters are estimated in a single determination - thus it is convenient to group these two elements together for the calculation of SAR. The calcium plus magnesium concentration is divided by two because most ion exchange equations express concentrations as mol/litre or mmol/litre rather than mmol (+)/1. The exchangeable sodium status of soils can be predicted fairly well from the SAR of the saturated soil extract since the two are related by the expression:
where the exchangeable ion concentrations are in cmol (+)/kg (the subscript ex indicates exchangeable), and KG is the exchange constant called Gapon’s constant. Several studies have shown that there is a linear relationship between SAR of the soil solution and ESR up to an ESP of about 50 so that SAR of the soil solution can be used as a fair measure of the exchangeable sodium status of soils. For a better estimate of exchangeable sodium, the value of constant KG needs to be determined experimentally for each major group of soils. The value of KG obtained by salinity laboratory workers (Bower, 1959) for a group of soils from the Western United States has been widely used. Up to an SAR of the saturation extract of about 30 the ESP values are roughly similar to SAR, but above this limit, they diverge and the full expression above must be used.
4.3 Sodic soils and plant growth
Plant growth is adversely affected in sodic soils due to one or more of the following factors: i. Excess exchangeable sodium in sodic soils has a marked influence on the physical soil properties. As the proportion of exchangeable sodium increases, the soil tends to become more dispersed which results in the breakdown of soil aggregates and lowers the permeability of the soil to air and water (Figure 20). Dispersion also results in the formation of dense, impermeable surface crusts that hinder the emergence of seedlings. ii. A second effect of excess exchangeable sodium on plant growth is through its effect on soil pH. Although high pH of sodic soils has no direct adverse effect on plant growth per se, it frequently results in lowering the availability of some essential plant nutrients. For example, the concentration of the elements calcium and magnesium in the soil solution is reduced as the pH increases (Table 22) due to formation of relatively insoluble calcium and magnesium carbonates by reaction with soluble carbonate of sodium, etc. and results in their deficiency for plant growth. Similarly, the solubility in soils and availability to plants of several other essential nutrient elements, e.g. P, Fe, Mn and Zn, are likely to be affected as will be discussed in a later section. iii. Accumulation of certain elements in plants at toxic levels may result in plant injury or reduced growth and even death (specific ion effects). Elements more commonly toxic in sodic soils include sodium, molybdenum and boron. Figure 20 Schematic diagram showing the relative hydraulic conductivity of a soil as affected by increasing ESP
Table 22 EFFECT OF pH ON THE SOLUBILITY OF CaCO3 IN WATER
pH Solubility of CaCO3 me/l 6.21 19.3 6.50 14.4 7.12 7.1 7.85 2.7 8.60 1.1 9.20 0.8 10.12 0.4
Under field conditions plant growth is adversely affected due to a combination of two or more of the above factors, depending on the level of exchangeable sodium, nature of the crops and the overall level of management. Table 23 gives the approximate extent of hazard in relation to ESP and crops. Table 23 EXCHANGEABLE SODIUM PERCENTAGE (ESP) AND SODICITY HAZARD
Approx. Sodicity Remarks ESP hazard < 15 None to The adverse effect of exchangeable sodium on the growth and yield of crops in slight various classes occurs according to the relative crop tolerance to excess sodicity.
15 - 30 Light to moderate 30 - 50 Moderate to high 50 - 70 High to very high > 70 Extremely high
Whereas the growth and yield of only sensitive crops are affected at ESP levels below 15, only extremely tolerant native grasses grow at ESP above 70 to 80.
4.4 Reclamation and management
4.4.1 Amendments 4.4.2 Organic manures
Basically, reclamation or improvement of sodic soils requires the removal of part or most of the exchangeable sodium and its replacement by the more favourable calcium ions in the root zone. This can be accomplished in many ways, the best dictated by local conditions, available resources and the kind of crops to be grown on the reclaimed soils. If the cultivator can spend very little for reclamation and the amendments are expensive or not available, and he is willing to wait many years before he can get good crop yields, soil can still be reclaimed but at a slow rate by long-continued irrigated cropping, ideally including a rice crop and sodic tolerant crops in the cropping sequence, along with the incorporation of organic residues and/or farmyard manure. For reasonably quick results cropping must be preceded by the application of chemical soil amendments followed by leaching for removal of salts derived from the reaction of the amendment with the sodic soil. Soil amendments are materials, such as gypsum or calcium chloride, that directly supply soluble calcium for the replacement of exchangeable sodium, or other substances, such as sulphuric acid and sulphur, that indirectly through chemical or biological action, make the relatively insoluble calcium carbonate commonly found in sodic soils, available for replacement of sodium. Organic matter (i.e. straw, farm and green manures), decomposition and plant root action also help dissolve the calcium compounds found in most soils, thus promoting reclamation but this is relatively a slow process. The kind and quantity of a chemical amendment to be used for replacement of exchangeable sodium in the soils depend on the soil characteristics including the extent of soil deterioration, desired level of soil improvement including crops intended to be grown and economic considerations. i. Kind of amendments Chemical amendments for sodic soil reclamation can be broadly grouped into three categories:
a. Soluble calcium salts, e.g. gypsum, calcium chloride. b. Acids or acid forming substances, e.g. sulphuric acid, iron sulphate, aluminium sulphate, lime-sulphur, sulphur, pyrite, etc. c. Calcium salts of low solubility, e.g. ground limestone. The suitability of one or another amendment for sodic soil reclamation will largely depend on the nature of the soil and cost considerations. Ground limestone, CaCO 3, is an effective amendment only in soils having pH below about 7.0 because its solubility rapidly decreases as the soil pH increases (Table 22). It is apparent that the effectiveness of limestone as an amendment is markedly decreased at pH values above 7.0. Some soils that contain excess exchangeable sodium also contain appreciable quantities of exchangeable hydrogen and therefore have an acidic reaction, e.g. degraded sodic soils. Lime reacts in such soils according to the reaction: Na, H - clay micelle + CaCO3 Û Ca - clay micelle + NaHCO3 However, lime is not an effective amendment for most sodic soils as their pH is always high. In fact, sodic soils contain measurable to appreciable quantities of sodium carbonate which imparts to these soils a high pH, always more than 8.2 when measured on a saturated soil paste, and up to 10.8 or so when appreciable quantities of free sodium carbonate are present. In such soils only amendments comprising soluble calcium salts or acids or acidforming substances are beneficial. The following chemical equations illustrate the manner in which some of the amendments react in these soils. Gypsum Gypsum is chemically CaSO4.2H2O and is a white mineral that occurs extensively in natural deposits. It must be ground before it is applied to the soil. Gypsum is soluble in water to the extent of about one-fourth of 1 percent and is, therefore, a direct source of soluble calcium. Gypsum reacts with both the Na2CO3, and the adsorbed sodium as follows: Na2CO3 + CaSO4 Û CaSO3 + Na2SO4 (leachable)
Calcium chloride Calcium chloride is chemically CaCl2 2H2O. It is a highly soluble salt which supplies soluble calcium directly. Its reactions in sodic soil are similar to those of gypsum: Na2CO3 + CaCl2 Û CaCO3 + 2 NaCl (leachable)
Sulphuric acid Sulphuric acid is chemically H2SO4. It is an oily corrosive liquid and is usually about 95 percent pure. Upon application to soils containing calcium carbonate it immediately reacts to form calcium sulphate and thus provides soluble calcium indirectly. Chemical reactions involved are: Na2CO3 + H2SO4 Û CO2 + H2O + Na2SO4 (leachable) CaCO3 + H2SO4 Û CaSO4 + H2O + CO2
Iron sulphate and aluminium sulphate (alum) Chemically these com-pounds are FeSO4.7H2O and Al2(SO4)3.18H2O respectively. Both these solid granular materials usually have a nigh degree of purity and are soluble in water. When applied to soils, these compounds dissolve in soil water and hydrolyse to form sulphuric acid, which in turn supplies soluble calcium through its reaction with lime present in sodic soils. Chemical reactions involved are: FeSO4 + 2H2O Û H2SO4 + Fe (OH)2 H2SO4 + CaCO3 Û CaSO4 + H2O + CO2
Similar reactions are responsible for the improvement of sodic soils when aluminium sulphate is used as an amendment. Sulphur (S) Sulphur is a yellow powder ranging in purity from 50 percent to more than 99 percent. It is not soluble in water and does not supply calcium directly for replacement of adsorbed sodium. When applied for sodic soil reclamation, sulphur has to undergo oxidation to form sulphuric acid which in turn reacts with lime present in the soil to form soluble calcium in the form of calcium sulphate: 2 S + 3 O2 ® 2 SO3 (microbiological oxidation) SO3 + H2O = H2SO4 H2SO4 + CaCO3 Û CaSO4 + H2O + CO2
Pyrite Pyrite (FeS2) is another material that has been suggested as a possible amendment for sodic soil reclamation. Reactions leading to oxidation of pyrite are complex and appear to consist of chemical as well as biological processes. The following sequence has been
proposed for the oxidation of pyrite by Temple and Delchamps (1953). The first step in the oxidation is nonbiological and iron II sulphate (ferrous) is formed 2 FeS2 + 2 H2O + 7 O2 Û 2 FeSO4 + 2 H2SO4 This reaction is then followed by the bacterial oxidation of iron II sulphate, a reaction normally carried out by Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, 4 FeSO4 + O2 +2 H2SO4 Û 2 Fe2 (SO4)3 + 2 H2O Subsequently iron III sulphate (ferric) is reduced and pyrite is oxidized by what appears to be a strictly chemical reaction. Fe2 (SO4)3 + FeS2 Û 3 FeSO4 +2 S Elemental sulphur so produced may then be oxidized by T. thiooxidans and the acidity generated favours the continuation of the process 2 S + 3 O2 + 2 H2O Û 2 H2SO4 Summary: 4 FeS2 + 2 H2O + 15 O2 Û 2 Fe2 (SO4)3 + 2 H2SO4 Others In some localities cheap acidic industrial wastes may be available which can be profitably used for sodic soil improvement. Pressmud, a waste product from sugar factories, is one such material commonly used for soil improvement. Pressmud contains either lime or some gypsum depending on whether the sugar factory is adopting carbonation or a sulphitation process for the clarification of juice. It also contains variable quantities of organic matter. ii. Choice of amendment The choice of an amendment at any place will depend upon its relative effectiveness as judged from improvement of soil properties and crop growth and the relative costs involved. The time required for an amendment to react in the soil and effectively replace adsorbed sodium is also a consideration in the choice of an amendment. Because of its high solubility in water, calcium chloride is the most readily available source of soluble calcium but it has rarely been used for reclamation on an extensive scale because of its high cost. Similarly iron and aluminium sulphates are usually too costly and have not been used for any largescale improvement of sodic soils in the past. Because amendments like sulphur and pyrite must first be oxidized to sulphuric acid by soil microorganisms before they are available for reaction, the amendments are relatively slow acting. Being cheapest and most abundantly available, gypsum is the most widely used amendment. Sulphuric acid has also been used extensively in some parts of the world, particularly in western United States and parts of USSR. Several studies have attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of various amendments under varying soil and climatic conditions. Overstreet et al. (1951) compared gypsum, sulphur and sulphuric acid for reclaiming sodic soil of the Fresno series in the USA. When applied in chemically equivalent
quantities, the response in terms of the yield of irrigated pasture was markedly higher in the sulphuric acid treated plots than in the gypsum and sulphur plots over a two year period following treatment. The yields in sulphur plots were never significantly higher than those of the check plots indicating that sulphur did not oxidize sufficiently to improve the soil effectively. Verma and Abrol (1980 a,b) compared the effect of chemically equivalent quantities of gypsum and pyrite at. 5 application rates on soil properties and yield of rice and wheat in a highly sodic soil. The pyrite used had 31 percent total sulphur and the gypsum 85 percent CaSO4 2 H2O. Results (Table 24) showed that pyrite was only about one-fourth as effective as gypsum. This is apparently due to lack of complete oxidation of pyrite once incorporated in sodic soils of high pH. Starkey (1966) pointed out that the best pH ranges for the activity of some sulphur oxidizing microorganisms, e.g. T. thiooxidans and T. ferrooxidans were in the range 2.0 to 3.0 and 2.2 to 4.7 respectively. Since the pH of sodic soils is usually very high, it is doubtful if the oxidation of sulphur/pyrite will proceed sufficiently. In order to be as effective as soluble calcium compounds, all the sulphur must undergo oxidation to form sulphuric acid. In experiments by Verma and Abrol (1980 a,b) the soil improvement in pyrite plots did not approach the improvement obtained in gypsum treated plots even three years after the amendments were applied. These results tend to show that the efficiency of sulphur compounds that must oxidize to produce sulphuric acid before they can replace adsorbed sodium is likely to be low in sodic soils due to their high pH. Table 24 EFFECT OF GYPSUM AND EQUIVALENT QUANTITIES OF PYRITE ON SOIL PROPERTIES AND CROP YIELD IN A HIGHLY SODIC SOIL (Verma and Abrol, 1980 a,b)
Soil properties Treatment Control Gypsum t/ha 7.1 14.2 21.3 28.4 Pyrite t/ha 3.6 7.2 10.8 14.4 Infiltration rate mm/day 3.34 6.82 8.58 12.25 12.42 3.38 4.05 5.62 5.65 Crop yield t/ha
ESP Rice Wheat 0-15 cm 15-30 cm 76.5 92.4 3.85 0.19 33.4 75.1 6.71 1.46 32.4 79.2 6.85 3.14 19.2 59.5 7.43 3.60 13.6 56.5 7.24 4.22 64.1 90.2 5.71 0.15 52.3 86.4 6.04 0.54 44.1 80.2 6.71 1.35 38.8 80.3 6.91 1.35
In another field study on a highly sodic soil Milap Chand et al. (1977) compared the performance of several amendments on the yield of barley grown in a highly sodic soil. Their data (Table 25) show that gypsum, sulphuric acid and aluminium sulphate were nearly equally effective in improving the yield of barley. As expected, farmyard manure or pressmud (C) from the sugar factories adopting the carbonation process had little beneficial effect and pressmud (S) from factories adopting the sulphitation process increased the yield since it contained about 9.3 percent calcium sulphate and about 36 percent organic matter.
Table 25 EFFECT OF SEVERAL AMENDMENTS ON THE YIELD OF BARLEY GROWN IN HIGHLY SODIC SOIL (Milap Chand et al. 1977)
Amendment Barley yield t/ha Control 0.02 Gypsum 3.10 Sulphuric acid 3.20 Aluminium sulphate 3.12 Ferrous sulphate 2.62 Farmyard manure 0.29 Pressmud (C) 0.10 Pressmud (S) 0.61
Note: Yield has been averaged for three levels of application viz. 33, 66 and 100 percent of laboratory estimated requirements of the amendments. Farmyard manure and the two pressmuds were applied at 15, 30, 45 and 10, 20 and 30 t/ha, respectively. Yadav (1973) presented data on the effect of gypsum and sulphuric acid applied at 80 percent of the laboratory estimated gypsum requirements and in chemically equivalent quantities on crop yields in a highly sodic soil. pH and ESP of the surface soil of the experimental field varied between 9.1 to 9.8 and 41 to 60, respectively. During the three years of study, crop yields (Table 26) were always higher in sulphuric acid than in the gypsum treated plots. There was also improvement in crop yields over the years which was apparently due to biological action of plant roots, etc. This aspect will be discussed in detail in another section. Table 26 EFFECT OF GYPSUM AND EQUIVALENT QUANTITIES OF SULPHURIC ACID ON CROP YIELDS t/ha (Yadav, 1973)
1969-70 Rice Wheat Control 1.51 0.72 Gypsum 3.67 1.92 Sulphuric acid 4.56 2.56 Treatment 1970-71 Rice Wheat 2.12 1.71 4.36 2.61 4.68 3.10 1971-72 Rice Wheat 3.56 1.46 5.13 2.74 5.53 3.05
Some workers have postulated that sulphuric acid is more effective because calcium sulphate formed in situ as a result of its reaction with soil calcium carbonate is more effective in neutralizing free sodium carbonate in soils and in replacing the adsorbed sodium. Miyamoto et al. (1975) presented equations for predicting the changes in exchangeable sodium and dissolved salts results from known applications of sulphuric acid. Prather et al. (1978) suggested that combining either CaCl2 or H2SO4 with CaSO4 as an amendment can appreciably shorten the time of reclamation and improve water efficiency as compared to CaSO4 alone under certain soil conditions.
Large-scale use of sulphuric acid for improving sodic soils presents handling and application difficulties. However, in many parts of the USA sulphuric acid is being increasingly used for improving calcareous sodic soils because its cost compared to gypsum is not prohibitive and its use can be economic as larger and quicker returns from the land, in the form of crop yields, will more than pay for the higher initial cost. Similarly in USSR, a large-scale soil reclamation programme is being undertaken in the Araraat Valley, in the Armenian Republic, by application of 1 percent sulphuric acid along with heavy leaching (Petrosian, 1977). However, gypsum is by far the most commonly used amendment because of its abundant availability and low cost. The quantities of different amendments that will cause equivalent improvement by replacing adsorbed sodium are given in Table 27, relative to 1 ton gypsum. The figures in Table 27 assume 100 percent oxidation of materials like sulphur or pyrite in order to be as effective as soluble calcium compounds. Optimum conditions for the oxidation of these compounds are not fully understood but available information indicates that oxidation is unlikely to be sufficient in soils of high pH to warrant their large-scale use for reclamation. Table 27 EQUIVALENT QUANTITIES OF SOME COMMON AMENDMENTS FOR SODIC SOIL RECLAMATION
Amendment Relative quantity 1/ Gypsum (CaSO4 2H2O) 1.00 Calcium chloride (CaCl2 2 H2O) 0.85 Sulphuric acid (H2SO4) 0.57 Iron sulphate (FeSO4.7 H2O) 1.62 Aluminium sulphate (Al2 (SO4)3.18 H2O) 1.29 Sulphur (S) 0.19 Pyrite (FeS2) - 30% sulphur 0.63 Calcium polysulphide (CaS5) - 24% sulphur 0.77
/ These quantities are based on 100 percent pure materials. If the material is not 100 percent pure necessary correction must be made. Thus if gypsum is only 80 percent pure
the quantity to be added will be iii. Quantity of amendment
tons instead of 1.00 ton.
The quantity of an amendment necessary to reclaim sodic soil depends on the total quantity of sodium that must be replaced. This, in turn, depends on such factors as the soil texture and mineralogical make up of the clay, extent of soil deterioration as measured by exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) and the crops intended to be grown. The relative tolerance of a crop to exchangeable sodium and its normal rooting depth will largely determine the soil depth up to which excess adsorbed sodium must be replaced for satisfactory crop growth. If a quantitative exchange of applied soluble calcium for adsorbed sodium is assumed, replacement of each mole of adsorbed sodium per 100 g soil will
require half a mole of soluble calcium. The quantity of pure gypsum required to supply half a cmole of calcium per kg soil for the upper 15 cm soil depth will be
= 86 x 10-5 kg/kg soil = 86 x 10-5 x 2.24 x 106 kg/ha = 1926 kg or 1.96 t/ha If it is desired to replace greater quantities of adsorbed sodium, the quantity of gypsum can be accordingly increased. Quantities of other amendments can be determined by reference to Table 27. In many laboratories the quantity of gypsum required for reclaiming sodic soil is determined by the gypsum requirement (GR) test suggested by Schoonover (1952). The test is performed by mixing a small soil sample (5 g) with a relatively large volume of saturated gypsum solution and measuring the calcium lost from the solution after reaction with soil. Sodium salts in an sodic soil are so diluted by this treatment that nearly complete displacement of exchangeable sodium by calcium from the gypsum solution occurs. The decrease in calcium from the solution when expressed on the basis of tons of CaSO 4.2H2O per 30 cm of soil is the gypsum requirement of the soil. Many sodic soils contain, in addition to excessive quantities of exchangeable sodium, appreciable amounts of soluble sodium carbonate. In such cases the gypsum requirement test evaluates the amount of calcium required to replace the exchangeable sodium plus that required to neutralize all the soluble sodium carbonate in the soil. Some workers (Hausenbuiller, 1978) maintain that sufficient amendment must be added to react with both soluble sodium carbonate and exchangeable sodium to achieve complete reclamation. However studies by Abrol and Dahiya (1974) showed that, when gypsum was surface applied and leached, only a small fraction of the soluble carbonates reacted with applied calcium and that a major fraction of the soluble carbonates leached without reacting with applied gypsum. Under field conditions one irrigation prior to application of an amendment would further ensure leaching of soluble carbonates, eliminating the need of additional quantities of gypsum for neutralizing the free sodium carbonate. For the above reasons, a modification in the method of determining the gypsum requirement of soils has been proposed (Abrol et al., 1975). In the modified procedure, the soil is washed free of soluble carbonates with alcohol before proceeding with the gypsum requirement test. The modified procedure gives a more realistic estimate of the gypsum needs of sodic soils containing varying amounts of soluble carbonate. It has been earlier pointed out a relationship between soil pH and the exchangeable sodium percentage for some indian soils. Such a relationship was established for sodic soils of the Indo-Gangetic plains in India (Figure 17), and based on this a graphical relationship
between pH of 1:2 soil-water suspension and the gypsum requirement of the surface 15 cm depth was established. This is presented in Figure 21. Since pH can be determined easily and since it is measured on 1:2 soil-water suspension in most Indian laboratories. Figure 21 has been found very useful in predicting the approximate gypsum requirements of some indian sodic soils. Similar relationships for groups of like soils may be investigated for estimating the amendment needs of soils. Figure 21 Relationship between pH of 1:2 soil-water suspension and the gypsum requirements of sodic soils of the Indo-Gangetic plains. Light, medium and heavy refer to soils with a clay content of approximately 10, 15 and 20 percent, respectively. A cation exchange capacity of 10 cmol (+)/kg soil is common for most medium textured soils
iv. Application method Amendments like gypsum are normally applied broadcast and then incorporated with the soil by disking or ploughing. Elgabaly (1971) reported that gypsum mixed with the surface 15 cm was more effective in the removal of exchangeable sodium than gypsum applied on the soil surface. Khosla et al. (1973) found that mixing limited quantities of gypsum in shallower depths was more beneficial than mixing with deeper depths (Table 28). Mixing gypsum in deeper depths resulted in its dilution resulting in lesser ESP decrease throughout the depth. Also when gypsum is mixed to greater soil depths there is greater likelihood that a fraction of gypsum will be used in neutralizing soluble carbonates in the entire 30 cm soil depth at the expense of exchangeable sodium replacement at the shallower soil depth. This will decrease the seed germination rate and consequently the yield (Table 28), when
gypsum at 50 percent of the laboratory estimated gypsum requirement of the soil was surface applied, only 1.7% of the soluble carbonates were precipitated compared to 80.8% when gypsum was mixed in the entire soil. This, in turn, resulted in increased exchangeable sodium replacement and therefore higher hydraulic conductivity in the surface application treatment (Table 29). When the problem of exchangeable sodium is only mild, gypsum applied in dissolved form was found more beneficial for the establishment of pasture in comparison to soil application treatments (Davidson and Quirk, 1961). Table 28 EFFECT OF DEPTH OF MIXING 13 TON GYPSUM PER HECTARE ON THE GRAIN YIELD OF BARLEY, RICE AND WHEAT GROWN IN SUCCESSION IN A HIGHLY SODIC SOIL (Khosla et al., 1973)
Depth of 1/mixing cm pH 2/ ESP 3/ 10 20 30
9.3 9.5 9.9
25 37 75
Grain yield t/ha Barley Rice Wheat 2.6 7.0 3.3 2.5 6.1 3.2 0.5 5.6 2.0
Gypsum was applied before the barley crop;
pH of 1:2 soil-water suspension of the samples (0-10 cm) taken before transplanting rice crop;
Exchangeable sodium percentage.
Table 29 EFFECT OF METHOD OF APPLICATION OF AN AMENDMENT ON THE PROPERTIES OF A HIGHLY SODIC SOIL CONTAINING FREE SODIUM CARBONATE (Abrol et al., 1975)
Application rate as % of GR 1/ 50 100 100 Soluble carbonate precipitated S 2/ M 2/ 1.7 80.8 5.5 50.8 100.0 100.0 Hydraulic conductivity cm/day S M 1.41 0.08 9.09 8.70 4.65 0.59 Exch. Ca me/100 g S M 6.3 3.4 6.0 6.5 6.5 5.6
Amendment Gypsum (CaSO4 2 H2O) Calcium chloride (CaCl2 2 H2O)
GR is the laboratory estimated gypsum requirement of the soil, 15.6 me/100 g.
S and M refer to surface spreading and mixing in the entire soil respectively of the two amendments.
Deep ploughing (up to 100 cm) has been reported to be a useful practice for improving sodic soils with hardpans or dense clay subsoil layers (Rasmussen et al., 1972). The success of deep ploughing chiefly depends on the mixing of low-clay calcareous or gypsiferous subsoil material with high-clay B horizon material to provide a more favourable physical matrix for water movement and root penetration and to provide a source of calcium for replacement of exchangeable sodium in the profile. Improvements in crop yields as a
result of deep ploughing, with or without gypsum application, were related to enhanced water intake rates and depth of penetration and nearly doubled the effective available water holding capacity to a depth of about 90 cm (Rasmussen et al., 1972 and Rasmussen and McNeal, 1973). Because of hazards in handling, the application of sulphuric acid is difficult under ordinary field conditions. However, special equipment is now available in some countries which sprays the concentrated acid on the soil surface. Amendments are sometimes applied in the irrigation water and for this special equipment is also available (Follett et al. 1981). v. Gypsum fineness and solubility At mine sites, gypsum is obtained in the form of lumps which require grinding before application in sodic soil reclamation. The fineness to which gypsum must be ground is a matter of economic consideration. Very fine grinding entails higher cost although, based on physico-chemical considerations (Aylmore et al., 1971), it is often maintained that the finer the gypsum particles, the more effective they are likely to be for the reclamation of sodic soils. El Gibaly (1960) carried out laboratory studies to evaluate the relative effectiveness of gypsum passed through different mesh sieves and observed no significant difference in the total sodium removal when a sodic soil was leached with water after mixing it with gypsum passed through 100, 150 and 200 mesh sieves, although the total removal of sodium in these treatments was higher than that with the treatment in which the gypsum passed through a 60 mesh sieve. Studies of Chawla and Abrol (1982) with a highly sodic soil containing free sodium carbonate showed that treatment of soil with very finely ground gypsum resulted in high initial hydraulic conductivity which decreased sharply with time (Figure 22). On the other hand, treatment with gypsum passed through 2 mm mesh and having a range of particle size distribution helped in maintaining permeability at higher level and for a longer period. Their results showed that higher solubility of finer particles caused them to react with free sodium carbonate, inactivating the soluble calcium due to formation of insoluble calcium carbonate. Figure 22 Hydraulic conductivity of a highly sodic soil as affected by gypsum fineness (Chawla and Abrol. 1982)
These studies suggested that gypsum passed through 2 mm sieve and with a wide particle size distribution was likely to be more efficient for the reclamation of sodic soils having appreciable quantities of sodium carbonate. Limited solubility of gypsum in water (0.25 percent at 25°C) is sometimes cited as a major drawback of this amendment when rapid reclamation is desired. Similarly, the quantities of water required for sodic soil reclamation are generally calculated on the basis of gypsum solubility in free water. For example, if a sodic soil requires an application of 12.5 tons gypsum per hectare, the quantity of water required to dissolve this quantity will be above 50 cm depth. That this is not likely to be the case in practice was shown by Abrol et al. (1979) and Oster and Frenkel (1980). When gypsum is mixed in a highly sodic soil its solubility increases several fold because of the preference of exchange sites for divalent calcium ions compared to sodium ions. The higher the degree of sodium saturation the greater will be the dissolution of gypsum mixed in soil. Hira et al. (1980 a,b) observed that under 14 cm water were required to dissolve gypsum applied at 12.4 tonnes per hectare and leach the reaction products from the surface 15 cm soil in a highly sodic soil (ESP 94.0). This quantity is only about one-fourth the quantity of water calculated from considerations of solubility in water alone. In recent years successful efforts have been made to predict the reclamation of sodic soils following application of amendments and leaching with water under controlled conditions (Dutt et al., 1972; Oster and Frenkel, 1980), and computer models have been developed.
Testing of these under field conditions and under conditions of group crops will greatly assist in planning large-scale reclamation.
4.4.2 Organic manures
Organic manures have long been known to facilitate the reclamation of sodic soils (Yadav and Agarwal, 1961; Kanwar et al., 1965). The mechanisms involved and the precise reasons for observed responses are not always clear. Dargan et al. (1976) studied the effect of gypsum and farmyard manure singly and in combinations on the yield of berseem and a subsequent rice crop in a highly sodic soil. A strong interacting effect of gypsum and FYM on the yield of berseem appears, at least in part, due to the supply of micronutrients such as Zn, as observed by responses to the subsequent rice crop (Table 30). Puttaswamygowda and Pratt (1973) attributed the beneficial effect of straw incorporated in an sodic soil under submerged conditions to (i) the decomposition of organic matter, evolution of CO2 and certain organic acids; (ii) lowering of pH and the release of cations by solubilization of CaCO3 and other soil minerals thereby increasing the EC; and (iii) replacement of exchangeable Na by Ca and Mg and thereby lowering the ESP. Submerged anaerobic conditions were optimum for these processes according to these workers. Similar observations were made by Swarup (1981). In recent studies Gupta et al. (1984) studied the effect of organic materials on the dispersion behaviour of soils and inferred that at high ESP, the role of organic matter in improving soil physical properties was somewhat questionable. However when applied in conjunction with inorganic amendments or when applied in soils of mild sodicity, organic materials have always proved beneficial and therefore their use in the reclamation of sodic soils occupies an important place. Table 30 EFFECT OF APPLICATION OF FARMYARD MANURE (FYM) AND GYPSUM ON THE YIELD OF BERSEEM AND OF SUBSEQUENT APPLICATION OF ZINC ON THE YIELD OF RICE IN A HIGHLY SODIC SOIL 1/ (Dargan et al., 1976)
Berseem yield Rice t/ha No Zinc Zinc 2/ Control 0.15 5.4 7.2 FYM 25 t/ha 0.83 6.6 7.8 FYM 50 t/ha 1.74 7.7 8.5 Gypsum 11 t/ha 9.49 6.7 8.9 Gypsum 11 t/ha + FYM 25 t/ha 29.48 7.7 9.2 Gypsum 11 t/ha + FYM 50 t/ha 31.89 8.4 8.9 Treatment
Gypsum and FYM were applied before the berseem crop. Zinc was applied as zinc sulphate at 45 kg/ha before planting rice.
4.5 Crops in sodic soils
4.5.1 Rice as a reclamative crop 4.5.2 Grasses 4.5.3 Trees
Proper choice of crops during reclamation of sodic soils is important. Growing crops tolerant to excess exchangeable sodium can ensure reasonable returns during the initial phases of reclamation or when the crops are grown with irrigation water having a sodicity hazard. Abrol and Bhumbla (1979) reported results of long-term field studies to evaluate the effect of exchangeable sodium on the performance of several field crops. Under field conditions, varying levels of exchangeable sodium were achieved by applying different quantities of gypsum to a highly sodic soil. In these studies gypsum was applied only once initially. Data on actual crop yields as a result of application of different levels of gypsum are presented in Table 31, and Figure 23 (a and b) depicts the relationship between exchangeable sodium percentage and the yield of selected crops. These data bring out that there are wide variations in the tolerance of crops to sodic conditions: rice and dhaincha appear to be tolerant, wheat and bajra are only moderately tolerant and legume crops like mash and lentil are relatively sensitive to excess exchangeable sodium (Table 31). Relative tolerance of rice and wheat are clearly brought out in Figure 24 which shows that at an ESP of about 50 the yield of rice was virtually unaffected, while the wheat crop almost failed at this high ESP (Plates 6 and 7). Based on these and other studies (Chhabra et al., 1979; Singh et al., 1979, 1980, 1981) crops are listed in Table 32 according to their relative tolerance to exchangeable sodium. It has been observed that, generally, crops that are able to withstand excess moisture conditions resulting in short-term oxygen deficiencies are also more tolerant of sodic conditions because the excess exchangeable sodium adversely affects crop growth chiefly through its adverse effect on soil physical properties. Table 31 YIELD OF CROPS 1/ AS AFFECTED BY GYPSUM TREATMENTS (Abrol and Bhumbla, 1979)
Dhaincha - Sesbania aculeata; Wheat - Triticum aestivum; Rice - Oryza sativa; Mash Phaseolus mungo; Lentil - Lens esculentum; Bajra -Pennisetum typhoideum; Gram Cicer arietinum. Green matter yield at 60 days growth.
Approximate yield of crops under optimum management and relatively non-sodic conditions as obtained from otherwise similar soil and agroclimatic conditions in the region.
Figure 23 Relationship between exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) and the yield of selected crops (Abrol and Bhumbla, 1979) (A)
Figure 23 Relationship between exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) and the yield of selected crops (Abrol and Bhumbla, 1979) (B)
Figure 24 Relative tolerance of rice and wheat crops to exchangeable sodium percentage
Plate 6 Effect of gypsum application on the performance of a wheat crop on a highly sodic soil (A) Plate 6 Effect of gypsum application on the performance of a wheat crop on a highly sodic soil (B) Plate 7 Gypsum application improves soil properties considerably; note the porous nature of surface soils in the gypsum treated soils (A) Plate 7 Gypsum application improves soil properties considerably; note the porous nature of surface soils in the gypsum treated soils (B) Table 32 RELATIVE TOLERANCE OF SELECTED CROPS AND GRASSES TO EXCHANGEABLE SODIUM 1/ (Abrol, 1982)
Tolerant Karnal grass Diplachne fusca Rhodes grass Chloris gayana Semi-tolerant Wheat Triticum aestivum Barley Hordeum vulgare Sensitive Cowpeas Vigna sinensis Gram Cicer arietinum
Para grass Brachiaria mutica Bermuda grass Cynodon dactylon Rice Oryza sativa Dhaincha Sesbania aculeata
Sugarbeet Beta vulgaris
Oats Avena sativa Raya Brassica juncea Senji Melilotus parviflora Bajra Pennisetum typhoides Cotton Gossypium hirsutum Berseem Trifolium alexandrinum Sugarcane Saccharum officinarum
Groundnut Arachis hypogaea Lentil Lens esculenta Mash Phaseolus mungo Maize Zea mays Cotton, at germination Gossypium hirsutum Mung Phaseolus aurus Peas Pisum sativum
Crop yields are seriously affected if the ESP is more than about 55, 35 and 10 in respect of tolerant, semi-tolerant and sensitive crops respectively. The grasses listed are highly tolerant and some, like Karnal grass, will grow even in soils of ESP 80 to 90.
Table 33 TOLERANCE OF VARIOUS CROPS TO EXCHANGEABLE SODIUM (ESP) UNDER NON-SALINE CONDITIONS (Pearson, 1960)
Tolerance, to ESP and Crops range at which affected Extremely sensitive Deciduous fruits (ESP = 2-10) Nuts Citrus (Citrus spp.) Avocado (Persea americana Mill.) Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Sensitive (ESP - 10-20) Moderately tolerant (ESP - 20-40) Growth response under field conditions Sodium toxity symptoms even at low ESP values.
Tolerant (ESP - 40-60)
Clover (Trifolium spp.) Oats (Avena saliva L.) Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) Rice (Oryza saliva L.) Dallisgrass (Paspalum dilatum Poir.) Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Stunted growth usully due to adverse Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) physical conditions of soil. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) Beet, garden (Beta vulgaris L.) Crested and Fairway wheatgrass Stunted growth usually due to adverse
Stunted growth at these ESP values even though the physical condition of the soil may be good. Stunted growth due to both nutritional factors and adverse soil conditions.
(ESP more than 60)
(Agropyronspp.) Tall wheatgrass (Agropyron elongatum Host Beau.) Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana Kunth)
physical conditions of soil.
Based upon earlier studies (Bernstein and Pearson, 1956; Pearson and Bernstein, 1958), Pearson (1960) listed crops according to their tolerance to exchangeable sodium (Table 33). A comparison with the listing in Table 32 brings out wide variations in the observed tolerance to exchangeable sodium of some crops. For example, Pearson (1960) rated rice only as a moderately tolerant crop, while crops like wheat, cotton, barley, tomatoes, etc. were rated as tolerant. However, the research results upon which Pearson (1960) based his crop tolerance ratings were obtained with soils whose structure had been stabilized with substances like Krilium or other soil conditioners. The applicability of these results under field conditions, therefore, is questionable. This is because under field conditions crop growth in sodic soils is adversely affected, largely due to the effect of excess exchangeable sodium on the soil physical conditions and it is difficult to visualize conditions in which the soils will have good physical conditions when excess sodium occupies exchange sites. Results of experiments on which crop tolerance ratings in Table 31 are based were largely conducted under field conditions and therefore the tolerance limits are based on the overall effects of exchangeable sodium on the physical and nutritional properties of soils.
4.5.1 Rice as a reclamative crop
The high tolerance of rice to exchangeable sodium arises chiefly because of its ability to withstand, and in fact its need for, a layer of water on the field throughout the growing season. Also, the high pH of sodic soils is reduced under continuous flooding. Thus, Ponnamperuma and his colleagues observed pH to decrease from 8.8 to 7 twelve weeks after flooding. This was ascribed to evolution of large quantities of carbon dioxide from bacterial action and its accumulation because of restricted diffusion of gases in flooded soils (Ponnamperuma, 1965; Ponnamperuma et al. 1966). The low permeability of sodic soils is a further advantage to rice because losses of water due to deep percolation are restricted, although in most cases they are sufficient to leach soluble salts resulting from the exchange of sodium present in the root zone. These factors make rice an ideal crop during the reclamation of sodic soils and it can enhance the reclamation process considerably. Apart from being tolerant to high sodicity, growing rice results in continuous soil improvement through reduction in soil sodicity. McNeal et al. (1966) experimenting with sodic soils from Pakistan concluded that rice cultivation indirectly facilitates the removal of exchangeable sodium by increasing the crosssectional area of conducting pores, resulting in increased permeability. Those workers questioned, however, the rice crop’s appreciable direct effect resulting from the dissolving action of carbon dioxide on the release of calcium from calcium carbonate. The effect of growing rice on changes in soil sodicity in a field study (Abrol and Bhumbla, 1979) are presented in Table 34. These and other controlled laboratory studies (Chhabra
and Abrol. 1977) showed that rice growth resulted in high cumulative removal of exchangeable sodium caused by mobilization of native insoluble calcium carbonate as a result of increased hydrolysis, and CO., liberated by plant roots. Long-term field studies (unpublished) showed that when rice was included in the crop sequence, there was a gradual reduction in sodicity so that in a period of about 10 years, the upper 100 to 125 cm of soil were nearly free of sodicity problems whereas the entire profile was initially highly sodic. Growing rice has an additional advantage that up to 12 to 15 cm of rain water can be stored in the rice fields and this reduces the drainage needs of the sodic soil areas on the one hand and encourages groundwater recharge on the other (Narayana, 1980). In conclusion, its relatively shallow and superficial root system, its high sodicity tolerance and reclamative action together with the need and possibility of storing a large fraction of the rain water makes rice an ideal crop during reclamation of sodic soils. Table 34 EFFECT OF GROWING RICE ON THE CHANGES IN SOIL ESP (ABROL AND BHUMBLA, 1979)
Treatment 1/ Exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) gypsum Before rice (April 1971) After rice (November 1971) t/ha 0 - 15 cm 15 - 30 cm 0 - 15 cm 15 - 30 cm 0 87.0 94.0 50.0 63.0 7.5 67.0 87.0 29.5 63.0 15.0 33.0 83.0 25.5 56.0 22.5 15.5 64.5 16.0 32.5 30.0 14.0 57.0 12.5 36.0
Gypsum was applied in June 1970.
Grasses are, in general, more tolerant of sodic conditions than most field crops. Field and greenhouse studies have shown that Karnal grass (Diplachne fusca), Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana). Para grass (Brachiaria mutica) and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) are highly tolerant of sodic conditions and can be successfully grown in sodic soils (Ashok Kumar and Abrol 1979, 1983). Karnal grass grows extremely well in soils of very high ESP (80 to 90) even when no amendment is applied. Yield of five grasses in response to three levels of gypsum application in a highly sodic soil (ESP is 90) relative to their respective yields under normal, non-sodic soil conditions (taken as 100) are shown in Figure 25. Karnal grass gave high yield even in the control plots (no gypsum) indicating its high tolerance of sodic conditions (Plate 8). Rhodes grass yielded next highest. Karnal grass and para grass are also highly tolerant to ponded water conditions, typically obtained in sodic soil areas during the rainy season and even after each irrigation. In fact the yield of these two grasses increased with submergence up to 8 days following each irrigation in greenhouse studies (Figure 26) and this factor makes these grasses extremely suitable for sodic soil conditions. When grasses are grown there is a continuous decrease in soil sodicity with time and an improvement in soil physical properties due to the biological action of grass roots. Thus growing tolerant grasses will not only provide much needed forage but also improve the soils resulting in increased absorption of rain water, reduced runoff and
soil losses due to erosion. Figure 27 depicts the relative tolerance to exchangeable sodium of a few selected grasses. Figure 25 Relative yields (%) of grasses grown on sodic soils compared with normal soils during 1979: 1, 2 and 3 refer to 0, 5.2 and 10.4 t gypsum per ha, respectively (Ashok Kumar and Abrol, 1983) Plate 8 Diplachne fusca: a grass highly tolerant of sodic conditions Figure 26 Effect of periodic submergence (2, 4 and 8 days) on the relative yield of selected grasses (Ashok Kumar and Abrol, 1983)
Figure 27 Relative tolerance of a few grasses to exchangeable sodium (ESP) (Ashok Kumar and Abrol, 1982)
The recent emphasis on the concentration of and need for additional sources of energy has demanded that a sizeable fraction of available land resources be diverted to forestry. Since there is keen competition for good land for producing food crops, there is a greater possibility for utilizing relatively marginal lands for forestry. Sodic soils constitute one such group. Earlier attempts to grow trees in highly sodic soils were largely a failure. Field studies by Yadav et al. (1975), however showed that species like Eucalyptus hybrid, Prosopis juliflora and Acacia nilotica could be grown in highly sodic soils if the seedlings were planted in pits 90 cm deep and 90 cm diameter after the pit soil had been amended with gypsum and manure. More recently, Sandhu and Abrol (1981) demonstrated that if the tree seedlings were planted in auger holes 15 cm diameter and 150 cm deep, filled with a mixture of original soil, 2 kg gypsum and 7 to 8 kg manure, seedlings made excellent growth and there was 100 percent survival. In this technique a favourable environment is created for root growth and penetration; the roots nearly bypass the sodicity and problems of hard subsurface soil layers and proliferate in the zone of continuous moisture availability (Plate 9). Using this technique a large number of auger holes can be made mechanically with a tractor-operated auger (Plate 10). Research to find techniques suited to particular soil, climatic and prevailing socio-economic conditions and a search for better-suited tree species will provide the necessary stimulus for organizing the much needed forestry programmes in such marginal lands. Plate 9 The auger hole technique for planting trees in sodic soils. The roots nearly bypass the sodicity problem and plants flourish once the roots proliferate in the lower layers Plate 10 A bed and ridge method for storage of rain water and planting trees in sodic soils
4.6 Factors influencing tolerance of crops to exchangeable sodium
4.6.1 Growth stage 4.6.2 Environmental factors 4.6.3 Crop varieties
As in the case of high salinity, tolerance of crops to excess exchangeable sodium is not a fixed property of a species. Several factors influence the tolerance; some of the important ones are given below.
4.6.1 Growth stage
Tolerance of crops changes with the stage of growth. Preliminary experiments showed that the sodicity tolerance of rice increased with age in the initial growth stages and it was found
beneficial to transplant somewhat older rice seedlings, 35 to 40 days of age, in sodic soils instead of the usually recommended 30 day old seedlings. It is also, possibly, for this reason that the workers at the US Salinity Laboratory (Pearson, 1960) categorized rice as only a semi-tolerant crop for sodic conditions because in their studies the crop was raised from seeds and not from transplanted seedlings. Many legumes germinate well in sodic soils but their subsequent growth is arrested due to low tolerance. In many small seeded crops germination failures are largely responsible for poor or uneven crop stands. Cotton, a crop considered tolerant of saline conditions, is only moderately tolerant of sodic conditions and relatively sensitive to sodicity at the germination stage. Unlike soluble salts in saline soils, considerable variations in the exchangeable sodium status of soils are not likely to occur during a crop season, although as mentioned in a previous section, ESP tends to decrease during rice growth. For this reason overall crop responses to a specified sodicity are generally more meaningful.
4.6.2 Environmental factors
The relative tolerance of crops to soil sodicity is strongly influenced by the prevailing atmospheric evaporative demand. Rice crops grown under submerged conditions tolerate higher sodicity levels in wet years when the rainfall is well distributed and atmospheric humidity is higher during the crop season than in the dry years when the atmospheric evaporative demand is high. This was attributed to the accumulation of sodium in toxic quantities when the evapotranspiration was high as is seen from data in Table 35 (Singh et al. 1979). For crops other than rice there is a strong interaction between exchangeable sodium level of the soil and water supply to plants on one hand and the evaporative demand on the other. Acharya et al. (1979) studied the drying pattern of two soils with exchangeable sodium percentages of 4 and 38 in the surface 0-15 cm layer in the field in winter and summer months when the average evaporative demands were 2.5 and 12.5 mm/day, respectively. Their results (Figure 28, a and b) showed that in soils of high ESP, compared to low ESP soils, the supply of water to meet evaporation from the soil surface was limited much more in periods of high evaporation demand than in the periods of low evaporative demand. These studies show that the adverse effect of high ESP on plant growth is likely to be accentuated under conditions of high evaporative demands, e.g. summer months, and this would make water management for crops more demanding. Figure 28a Soil water contents of the profiles initially (0) and in day 1 to 10 under high evaporative demand for ESP 38 (i) and 4 (ii) soils (Acharya et al., 1979)
Figure 28b Soil water contents of the profiles initially (0) and in days 2 to 27 under low evaporative demand for ESP 38 (i) and 4(ii) soils
Table 35 SODIUM CONTENT OF 30 DAY OLD RICE PLANTS IN A WET AND DRY YEAR AS AFFECTED BY GYPSUM APPLICATION IN A HIGHLY SODIC SOIL (Singh et al., 1979)
Gypsum applied t/ha 0 2.5 5.0 10.0
Na Content (%) Wet year Dry year 1.57 2.26 1.35 2.15 1.08 2.05 0.79 1.83
4.6.3 Crop varieties
Even within the same crop there are large variations between crop varieties in their tolerance to sodic soil conditions. Although there have been several studies aimed at identifying genotypes and breeding new crop varieties tolerant of salinity conditions, there appears only limited effort in this direction with regard to sodic soils. Mishra and Bhattacharya (1980) compared the performance of a few tall indica genotypes known for their tolerance to salinity and a high yielding semi-dwarf rice variety IR 8 in soils of varying sodicities in a pot culture experiment. Varieties CSR 1, CSR 2 and CSR 3 though low yielders in normal soils of low ESP levels tended to yield more than the variety IR 8 at very high ESP levels. Some of the observed trends are shown in Figure 29. Since the absolute yield of a crop will be a major consideration for most farmers, it is seen from Figure 29 that over a large sodicity range the improved high yielding varieties would perform better than the relatively tolerant native ones. Figure 29 Relative (i) and absolute (ii) yields of tolerant native (B) and high yielding dwarf (A) rice varieties in sodic conditions (i)
Figure 29 Relative (i) and absolute (ii) yields of tolerant native (B) and high yielding dwarf (A) rice varieties in sodic conditions (ii)
4.7 Nutrient requirements of crops
High levels of exchangeable sodium and accompanying high pH of sodic soils affect the transformations and availability of several essential plant nutrients (Figure 30). For this reason, optimum crop production in sodic soils calls for special fertilizer management practices compared to soils unaffected by sodicity. Our knowledge of the nutrient relations of crops in sodic soils is limited and generalizations can be made only with caution. Figure 30 Schematic diagram showing the effect of pH on the availability of nutrients Nitrogen Owing to their low organic matter content, sodic soils are generally deficient in available nitrogen. Further, excess sodium on the soil exchange complex imparts structural instability to the soil giving these soils characteristic, poor physical properties. The infiltration rate of the soils is low and the soils have restricted internal drainage. For this reason the surface soil layers remain nearly saturated for prolonged periods following irrigation or rain resulting in temporary anaerobic conditions. Similarly, between two irrigation cycles, water movement to plant roots from subsurface soil layers is restricted causing the surface soil layers to dry too soon. Thus the surface soil layers experience extremes of the water regime during the crop growth period. Patrick and Wyatt (1964) reviewing the literature on elemental nitrogen losses from soil concluded that losses were likely to be highest under alternate aerobic and anaerobic conditions, a situation exactly met within sodic soils. There is, however, a need to evaluate experimentally the extent of such losses under field conditions. Considerable losses of N in ammonia form due to volatilization are likely to occur in sodic soils due to their high pH (Rao and Batra, 1983).
High pH of sodic soils and poor soil physical conditions are also likely to adversely affect the transformations and availability of applied nitrogenous fertilizers. Studies by Nitant and Bhumbla (1974) brought out that with increasing soil pH and sodicity the time required for nearly complete hydrolysis of urea increased from about 3 days in a soil of pH 8.6 (1:2 soilwater suspension) to about 7 days for soil of pH 9.8. Reduced hydrolysis in soils of high sodicity was attributed to the possible effect of high pH on the activity of the enzyme urease or the direct effect of carbonate ions on the formation of ammonium carbonate. In view of the above factors, crop yields in sodic soils are adversely affected unless additional nitrogen is applied to compensate for losses due to denitrification, volatilization, etc. Dutch work with potatoes (Van Hoorn, 1958) showed that under conditions of poor soil structure, twice as much nitrogen was needed as when under conditions of good soil structure. In a number of field trials at the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal, India (Annual Reports 1970 to 1980), responses of rice and wheat grown in sodic soils were studied to levels of applied nitrogen. These studies showed that crops grown in sodic soils generally responded to higher levels of N application compared to crops grown in non-sodic soils but otherwise similar soil and climatic conditions. Based on these results it is generally recommended that crops grown in sodic soils be fertilized at 25 percent excess over the rates recommended for normal soils. Obrejanu and Sandu (1971) studied the effect of gypsum and nitrogen levels on the yield of sugarbeet in solonetzic soil. Their data (Table 36) show that yields were best with high gypsum and N applications, even though responses to N application were slightly higher without gypsum (and relative responses much higher). Table 36 SUGARBEET YIELD (t/ha) AS AFFECTED BY LEVELS OF GYPSUM AND NITROGEN IN A SOLONETZIC SOIL (Obrejanu and Sandu, 1971)
Nitrogen level kg/ha 0 60 120 180
Gypsum level t/ha 0 8 16 1/ 21 (100) 27 (100) 60 (100) 31 (147) 35 (129) 65 (108) 38 (181) 51 (189) 77 (128) 52 (247) 56 (207) 88 (138)
Figures in parenthesis are yields relative to control (no nitrogen) taken as 100.
In controlled laboratory studies (Abrol, 1968), when physical soil properties were not a limiting factor in plant growth, increased nitrogen application compensated the yield reduction due to increasing levels of exchangeable sodium percentage (Figure 31). Increased uptake of calcium and magnesium and decreased uptake of sodium resulting from application of additional nitrogen were responsible for the greater response to N at high exchangeable sodium levels. Thus, it appears that the beneficial effects of additional nitrogen on crop growth in sodic soils could be attributed to more than one mechanism. Phosphorus The general trend of phosphorus availability in relation to pH and degree of sodium saturation was shown (Figure 32) by Pratt and Thorne (1947) based on measurements made in clay suspensions. Chhabra et al. (1980) analysed a large number
of soil samples from barren sodic soils and reported that these soils generally contained high amounts of extractable phosphorus and that there was a positive correlation between soluble P status and the electrical conductivity of the soil. Presence of sodium carbonate in these soils resulted in the formation of soluble sodium phosphates and hence a positive correlation between electrical conductivity and soluble P status. However, when a soil contains significant amounts of sodium carbonate (and also soluble P) most of the soil calcium is in the calcium carbonate form and not available to the plants resulting in complete crop failures. When an amendment, say gypsum, is applied to improve sodic soils, the soluble sodium-phosphates are converted to less soluble Ca-phosphates. Chhabra and Abrol (1981) observed that crops grown in freshly reclaimed sodic soils did not respond to applied P fertilizers for 4-5 years because of their high available P status. These studies have clearly shown that proper evaluation of the fertilizer needs of crops grown in sodic soils could considerably reduce the cost of crop production in these soils. Figure 31 Effect of exchangeable sodium (ESP) on the relative dry matter yield as affected by increased N fertilization (Abrol, 1968)
Figure 32 Solubility of phosphate in water from suspensions of bentonite clay of varying levels of sodium saturation (Pratt and Thorne, 1948)
Potassium Several studies have shown that increasing soil sodicity resulted in reduced uptake of potassium by most crops (Singh et al., 1979, 1980, 1981) although the opposite was true for some other crops (Chhabra et al., 1979; Martin and Bingham, 1954). The significance of reduced uptake of potassium with increasing ESP (Table 37) in K fertilization needs of crops has been investigated in detail. Lack of response to applied K in sodic soils observed in some studies at Karnal was attributed to the presence in the soil of K-bearing minerals which could supply sufficient K to meet the crop requirements (Pal and Mondal, 1980). Table 37 EFFECT OF EXCHANGEABLE SODIUM ON THE K CONTENT OF SOME PLANTS (Singh et al., 1979, 1980, 1981; Chhabra et al., 1979)
ESP K % in 30 day old plants Safflower Linseed Cowpeas Raya Sunflower 7.6 3.06 1.66 2.04 3.94 2.24 12.5 2.53 1.56 1.96 3.49 2.46 16.6 1.95 1.40 1.92 3.38 2.63 23.0 1.58 1.23 1.92 2.87 3.02
Calcium Increasing soil sodicity nearly always results in an increased uptake of sodium and decreased uptake of calcium by plants (Table 38). However, as can be seen from the data, with an increase in ESP the increase in sodium concentration of plants is usually much larger compared to the decrease in the calcium concentration. For this reason the plants often accumulate sodium in toxic quantities before the calcium becomes limiting for plant growth. However, when the exchangeable sodium levels are very high, calcium is often the first limiting nutrient, for example when the soils contain appreciable quantities of free sodium carbonate and the soil pH is high such that application of amendments is absolutely necessary. Table 38 EFFECT OF EXCHANGEABLE SODIUM ON THE SODIUM AND CALCIUM CONTENTS OF SOME 30 DAY OLD PLANTS (Singh et al., 1979, 1980, 1981; Chhabra et al., 1979)
ESP 7.6 12.5 16.6 23.0 44.2 Safflower Na Ca 1.01 1.36 1.42 1.22 1.85 1.18 2.28 0.88 2.81 0.63 Linseed Na Ca 1.48 0.46 1.53 0.46 1.76 0.44 2.10 0.34 2.40 0.27 Cowpeas Na Ca 0.16 2.35 0.24 2.33 0.25 2.24 0.32 2.05 0.66 1.72 Raya Na Ca 0.50 2.98 0.73 2.91 1.00 2.80 1.31 2.35 3.02 1.84 Sunflower Na Ca 0.09 2.78 0.10 2.87 0.26 2.68 0.41 2.62 0.52 2.25
Table 39 EFFECT OF LEVELS OF ZINC ON THE YIELD AND COMPOSITION OF RICE GROWN IN AN AMENDED SODIC SOIL (Singh et al., 1982)
ZnSO4 kg/ha 0 10 20 40 Yield Zn content ug/g Dry matter g/4 plants Grain t/ha At tillering Grain Straw 12.99 5.06 13.3 10.9 15.8 16.23 6.01 25.1 12.3 20.4 16.11 6.04 29.3 12.3 22.3 17.44 6.00 34.0 12.6 25.1
Micronutrients High pH, low organic matter content and presence of calcium carbonate strongly modify the availability of micronutrients to plants grown in sodic soils. Zinc deficiency has been widely reported for crops grown in sodic soils (Plate 11) and is accentuated when an amendment is applied to a Zn-deficient sodic soil (Singhet al. 1982). Several field studies have shown significant increase in crop yields due to application of zinc. Field studies by Singh et al. (1982) (Table 39) showed that application of 10 kg ZnSO4/ha was sufficient to mitigate the deficiency of Zn in rice grown in an amended, highly sodic soil.
Next to zinc, iron is often the limiting micronutrient in sodic soils due to high pH and presence of calcium carbonate. Addition of iron salts to correct the deficiency was generally not useful unless it was accompanied by changes in the oxidation status of the soil brought about by prolonged submergence and addition of organic matter (Katyal and Sharma, 1980). Swarup (1980) showed a marked increase in the extractable Fe and Mn status of a sodic soil upon submergence up to 60 days; the increase was more when organic materials like rice husk or farmyard manure were incorporated in the soil. Boron and molybdenum are not likely to be limiting elements for plant nutrition in sodic soils. In fact, they are often likely to be present in the toxic range. Kanwar and Singh (1961) observed a positive correlation between water soluble boron and the pH and EC of soils. In a laboratory study Gupta and Chandra (1972) observed a marked reduction in the water soluble boron content of a highly sodic soil upon addition of gypsum. At high pH and sodicity, boron is present as highly soluble sodium metaborate which upon addition of gypsum is converted to relatively insoluble calcium metaborate. Reduced uptake of boron by grasses (Table 40) with decreasing ESP due to gypsum application was also reported by Ashok Kumar and Abrol (1982). As with B, solubility of Mo increases with pH (Pasricha and Randhawa, 1971) and for this reason forage grown on sodic soils is likely to accumulate Mo in excessive quantities, which may prove toxic to the animals feeding on them. Chhabra et al. (1980) and Gupta et al. (1982) studied the effect of sodicity on the solubility of fluoride, an element important from the animal nutrition viewpoint. Water extractable fluoride increased with increasing sodicity and pH (Figure 33), the latter having a more important role in determining the behaviour of fluoride in soils. It was further shown that the F content of plants increased with increasing ESP and decreased with application of P fertilizer (Singh et al. 1979, 1980). Plate 11 Zinc is an important micronutrient to which crops respond in sodic soils It is seen from the above that the optimum management of nutrients is extremely important for crop production in sodic soils. As our knowledge of the physico-chemical behaviour of nutrients in these soils advances we will be able to manage them better. Table 40 AVERAGE BORON CONTENT (ppm) OF POUR GRASSES AS INFLUENCED BY LEVEL OF GYPSUM APPLICATION IN A HIGHLY SODIC SOIL (Ashok Kumar and Abrol, 1982)
Gypsum level (t/ha) 0 3.12 6.25 9.37 12.50 Bermuda grass 42.8 39.4 35.7 33.2 29.7 Para grass 39.4 37.6 34.7 33.8 30.3 Setaria grass 41.3 35.7 33.8 31.9 29.2 Hybrid Napier 51.3 48.8 46.3 41.9 41.3 Grass
Figure 33 Effect of ESP on water extractable fluoride in soil (Chhabra et al., 1980)
Figure 33 Effect of pH on water extractable fluoride in soil (Chhabra et al., 1980)
4.8 Water management
4.8.1 Drainage 4.8.2 Irrigation 4.8.3 Cultural practices
The drainage needs of an area and the best methods to meet them are likely to vary with soil and climatic characteristics and the prevailing socio-economic conditions. Drainage of sodic soils presents special problems. Narayana et al. (1977) summarized the results of studies at the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, India, to evaluate the drainage needs of representative sodic soil areas. The average annual rainfall of the area is about 700 mm and nearly 90 percent of this is received during the months of July to September. The average annual open pan evaporation is approximately 1 900 mm thus giving a net annual water deficit of about 1 200 mm. Generally this water deficit is experienced in all months except during July and August. Also Narayana (1979) analysed the maximum storm rainfall and the period of dry spells for different return periods for the region. Their data (Table 41) showed that for a five year return period, the maximum two day rainfall was 200 mm, and the length of dry spell 34 days. Such a situation, therefore, calls for a greater emphasis on the conservation of rainfall not only from a drainage point of view, but also to meet the water requirements of crops during the dry spells of the growing season. For such a situation a rainwater management procedure consisting of a three tier system with the following features was recommended (Narayana, 1979). - Collection of part of the rainfall in the cropland to a depth that will not be harmful to the crop. Field studies have shown that up to 15 cm of storm rainfall could be stored within the bunded fields without affecting the rice yields adversely. - Directing the runoff (after storage in cropland) from various parts of the catchment into dugout storage ponds of sufficient capacity and located in the lowest positions of the catchments. The stored water is utilized for irrigation in the adjacent lands by pumping during the dry spells of the rainy season. - The remaining excess water is then discharged into the shallow surface drains provided on a regional basis. The storage of rainwater in the dugout ponds during heavy storms and utilizing the same for irrigation during the intervening dry spells of the rainy season serve the dual purpose of drainage and irrigation. Table 41 MAXIMUM STORM RAINFALL AND DRY SPELLS OF DIFFERENT RETURN PERIODS IN KARNAL REGION (Narayana, 1979)
Duration of event Maximum 1-day rainfall mm Maximum 2-day rainfall mm Return period in years 1.01 2.33 5 10 25 100 41 120 152 183 221 282 51 155 201 238 285 355
Maximum 4-day rainfall mm Maximum dry spell in the rainy season (days)
67 179 228 268 318 394 15 28 34 39 45 54
For water table control - Narayana et al. (1977) carried out field studies to evaluate the effect of three drain spacings, 10, 20 and 30 m, using both covered concrete tile lines and open ditches. Their results showed that open ditches and cement concrete tiles were ineffective in lowering the groundwater table. Tile drainage was, therefore, considered as not feasible. This is due to the extremely poor water transmission characteristics of sodic soils due to high amounts of sodium on the soil exchange complex. It has been pointed out earlier that the groundwater associated with sodic soils in those areas has a generally low total electrolyte concentration and is therefore suitable for irrigation. This is in contrast to the usually high concentration of dissolved salts in the groundwater associated with saline soils occurring in the more arid regions. For this reason vertical drainage through pumping and utilizing the pumped water for irrigation appears a practical method for lowering the groundwater table in these areas. Conditions for successful vertical drainage, viz the presence of favourable aquifer properties within 10 to 20 m of the soil surface, are met with in most areas having sodic soil problems. Vertical drainage therefore appears to be an ideally suited drainage measure for the control of the groundwater table in these areas. Large-scale installation of pumped wells has in fact resulted in lowering the groundwater table over large areas of favourable aquifer properties. Similar efforts have been made for the improvement of salt-affected soils in China in recent years. According to You and Wang (1983), in regions where the groundwater is fresh or only slightly saline, well irrigation can simultaneously lower the groundwater level, leach the salts downward from the soil, alleviate the harmful effects of flooding and promote the salt leaching effect by natural precipitation. In regions where the groundwater is highly mineralized, as is the case in areas dominated by saline soils, extraction and drainage of the highly mineralized groundwater by wells can control the groundwater level if the drain water can be removed, e.g., to the sea. Irrigation with fresh water diverted from rivers can then accelerate salt leaching from soil and prevent secondary salinization. However, well drainage cannot replace ditch drainage and, generally, a combination of well drainage and ditch drainage should be adopted to improve the salt-affected soils. Figure 34 schematically describes the effect of pumped well irrigation and drainage on the control of the water table, salinization/sodication, control of drought, etc. Figure 34 Schematic diagram of the effect of pumped well irrigation and drainage on control of drought, flooding, salinization and sodication (You and Wang, 1983)
The depth of water to be applied at each irrigation and the time interval between successive irrigations are important considerations in irrigation scheduling. Applying water too frequently or too infrequently can result in reduced crop yields or reduced water use efficiency. The optimum depth of irrigation and the interval between two irrigations are determined by such factors as the atmospheric evaporativity, proliferation and depth of root
penetration, capacity of the soil to store and transmit water and the nature of plant responses to soil moisture stress. For crops other than rice, irrigation management presents major difficulties in obtaining optimum crop yields in sodic soils. Excess exchangeable sodium profoundly influences soil water behaviour and therefore the irrigation management needs of these soils. Figure 35 gives the post-infiltration moisture content distribution with depth in a sodic and a normal soil. It is seen that the moisture content in the sodic soil is about 5 percent less by weight (or nearly 7 to 8 percent by volume) compared to the normal soil. These differences were attributed to restricted rate of water entry at the soil surface in the case of sodic soil, indicating that the total soil water storage capacity is effectively reduced because of restricted entry from the surface. Similarly it was shown that the available water capacity defined by classical concepts (moisture content in the range of field capacity, i.e. 0.1 bar to wilting point, i.e. 15 bars suction), is significantly reduced with increasing exchangeable sodium (Abrol and Acharya, 1975). Thus the storage of water, as also the ability of soils to retain water in an available form, is reduced due to their poor structural status. Figure 35 Post infiltration moisture distribution in a sodic soil and a normal soil (Abrol and Acharya, 1975)
Following infiltration, the supply of water for meeting the evapotranspirational needs of crops must occur through water movement under unsaturated conditions from lower soil layers. High ESP of subsoil layers could drastically reduce the soil hydraulic conductivity (Acharya and Abrol, 1978) and therefore the ability of soil to transmit water to the growing
roots. It was shown by Acharya et al. (1979) that with increasing ESP of the surface soil, the water uptake rate was reduced and the contribution of the lower sodic soil layers was low to practically none when the ESP was high (Table 42). Apart from water transmission to the roots, the root penetration is extremely restricted in sodic soil layers as was shown by Abrol and Acharya (1975). Table 42 PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL WATER EXTRACTION FROM DIFFERENT DEPTH INCREMENTS IN RELATION TO EXCHANGEABLE Na OF THE SURFACE SOIL (Acharya et al. 1979)
Exchangeable Na % (0-15 cm) Rz 1/ cm/day Depth (cm) 0-15 15-30 30-45 45-60
38 0.141 78.0 22.0 0.0 0.0
0.233 0.241 0.200 0.180 Percent of Rz 46.4 44.0 67.5 75.0 30.0 31.1 28.0 25.0 16.3 18.7 4.5 0.0 6.4 6.2 0.0 0.0
Root water uptake - average of the 17-day drying period.
If the quantity of amendments applied is restricted, the subsoil layers continue to be sodic and therefore unfavourable for root proliferation (Plate 12). Considerations of soil water behaviour and root growth characteristics of these soils bring out the following points of relevance to irrigation needs of crops grown in sodic soils. Plate 12 Distribution of wheat roots in a sodic and a normal soil, about 100 days after planting i. The capacity of these soils to absorb water is restricted by poor infiltration characteristics. The latter will therefore determine primarily the quantity of irrigation that can be applied at any time. ii. The available water storage capacity of the soils is relatively low because of lower soil moisture retention at low suction values and higher retention at higher suction values. The effective capacity of soils to supply water is further reduced because of the poor hydraulic conductivity of sodic soils seriously limiting water movement from lower soil layers (Figure 36) to meet the evapo-transpirational needs. As a result the supply of available water is exhausted too soon and requires to be replenished at shorter intervals. iii. Unfavourable soil conditions (high pH and high levels of exchangeable sodium) in subsoil layers in sodic or partially reclaimed sodic soils restrict root penetration of crops to lower soil layers. The roots remain generally confined to the upper few centimetres depending upon the degree of soil improvement. Thus, the depth of soil available for moisture extraction following irrigation is restricted further because of surface confinement of crop roots.
Figure 36 Drying pattern of surface soil layers under field conditions in the first 4 days after irrigation, soil of ESP 4
Figure 36 Drying pattern of surface soil layers under field conditions in the first 4 days after irrigation, soil of ESP 38
From these considerations it would appear that for best results in sodic soils, the depth of irrigation should be governed by the infiltration characteristics of the soil rather than the conventional criteria of the soil storage capacity. Quantities of water in excess of what can be absorbed in a few hours could result in an oxygen imbalance in the root zone adversely affecting crop growth. The interval between two irrigations is determined largely by such factors as the atmospheric evaporative demand, proliferation and depth of root penetration and capacity of the soil to store and transmit water. In sodic soils, limited root penetration, lowered capacity to store water in an available form and poor transmission characteristics require that the irrigations are applied more frequently than would be required for crops grown under normal soil conditions. The optimum frequency will depend chiefly on the stage of soil deterioration. For the same reasons Yadav and Girdhar (1973) found sprinkler irrigation better than surface water application because of the ease of applying light and frequent irrigations through this method.
4.8.3 Cultural practices
Practices that can enhance the reclamation of sodic soils considerably include:
Mulching - In the initial years when the concentration of soluble salts is high in the surface soil layers, mulching can considerably help leach soluble salts, reduce ESP and obtain higher yields of tolerant crops. Figure 37a and b depicts, respectively, the effect of four levels, 0, 3, 5 and 8 cm thick, of rice husk mulch on the salt distribution and yield of rice (unhusked) approximately 12 months after applying mulch. During this period the entire rain water was ponded in the experimental plots and no runoff allowed. Increasing depth of rice husk resulted in increased and deeper leaching of salts and significant improvement in the yield of the following rice crop. Thus, wherever feasible, mulching to reduce downward flux of soluble salts should be encouraged. Figure 37a Effect of thickness of rice husk mulch, 0, 3, 5 and 8 cm (D0, D1, D2 and D3 respectively) on salt distribution in a highly sodic soil. EC was measured in 1:2 soilwater suspension (Dhankar and Abrol, 1973)
Figure 37b Effect of treatments on rice yield, t/ha
Continuous cropping - Fallowing encourages upward movement of salts. Once reclamation of sodic soils is started it is advisable to crop the land all the time. Continuous cropping, particularly when rice is one of the crops in the sequence, improves the soil, reducing ESP with time to a gradually increasing depth. As has been discussed earlier, the beneficial effects of growing rice can largely be attributed to the submerged conditions during its growth which provide effective leaching of exchange products formed during the growing period. Data in Figure 38 depict changes in soil pH and approximate ESP over a 10 year period when rice and wheat were grown in a sequence. In one set of plots gypsum at 14 tonnes per hectare was applied initially. It is seen that, with time, the improvement even in the ‘no gypsum’ plots was almost the same as that in ‘gypsum’ treated plots. The effect was largely due to growing rice. Figure 38 Effect of continuous cropping with rice-wheat rotation on soil sodicity over a ten-year period (No Gypsum)
Figure 38 Effect of continuous cropping with rice-wheat rotation on soil sodicity over a ten-year period (Gypsum)
5. SALINITY PROBLEMS OF THE DRYLAND REGIONS
5.1 Mode of formation 5.2 Factors influencing formation of saline seeps 5.3 Prevention and management of saline seeps
Apart from irrigated areas, salinity poses a major management problem in many unirrigated areas where cropping is done under rainfed conditions. Dryland salinity has been a threat to the land and water resources in several parts of the world although only in recent years has the seriousness of the problem become widely known. Dryland salinity is an acute management problem in western Australia and in the Great Plains region of North America. In Canada it occurs extensively in the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and in the United States in the states of Montana, North and South Dakota. Dryland salinity is also said to occur in South Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, Thailand and India and it
probably exists in other countries. Saline spots or areas occurring in the dryland fields have been known by several local names, but most commonly as saline seeps. These problem soils range from a slightly saline soil condition which reduces crop growth to extensive areas where cultivation is almost impossible. Problems relating to the origin and management of dryland saline soils have been discussed at several meetings in the recent past (Anonymous 1976, 1978; Holmes and Talsma 1981).
5.1 Mode of formation
Dryland saline seepage is generally considered to be a manifestation of salt accumulation in seepage spots at low points or side slopes in the landscape developed when water infiltrates into soil to somewhat impermeable layers, and moves laterally downslope. Eventually at lower elevations, the water seeps laterally out at the soil surface and evaporates leaving the salts behind. Thus the development of saline seeps involves two areas in the field - the recharge and the discharge areas. In the recharge areas, water in excess of the retention capacity of the root zone soil percolates beyond the root zone, reaches the groundwater and increases the flow to the discharge area (Figure 39). The groundwater flow is mainly lateral and downslope and occurs most often over a shallow, less permeable layer. The groundwater travelling to the discharge area dissolves salts from the soil. In the discharge area the groundwater rises to the soil surface creating a seep. As the water evaporates from the seepage area salts accumulate. Figure 39 Schematic diagram of a recharge and a seepage area (zone of salt accumulation)
5.2 Factors influencing formation of saline seeps
5.2.1 Excess water 5.2.2 Soil characteristics
A combination of climatic, geologic, soil and cultural conditions determines the nature, extent and intensity of saline seeps.
5.2.1 Excess water
Many dryland areas which are now cropped, existed under forest or grass cover. The ecosystem under these conditions was balanced - the grasses and trees utilizing all the precipitation in their respective areas and keeping the groundwater tables low. Clearing deep rooted perennial vegetation and its replacement by pastoral species and crops decreased plant water requirements, causing a surplus exceeding the retention capacity of the root zone. Any land use practice which allows excess moisture to migrate downward through the soil profile beneath the root zone can contribute to the formation and extension of dryland salinity. Some of the more important factors and practices that encourage excess moisture are: i. Fallowing By far the most important contributing factor in many areas, e.g. Northern Plains of North America is the widespread alternate crop-fallow farming system. When fallowing is practised, the capacity of the soil to retain rain water is reduced resulting in greater losses through seepage. ii. Rainfall It has generally been observed that salinity problems are more severe in years of high rainfall due to greater recharge and therefore accumulation of salt-laden water in the recharge zone. iii. Water and snow accumulation Practices which result in the accumulation of water/snow in the recharge areas may aggravate the saline seep problem. These include shelter belts, single row wind breaks, railways, roads and highways, etc. Natural and constructed ponds, dugouts and small farm reservoirs can be important locally if they are located in the recharge areas and leak significant quantities of water. iv. Overgrazing Range that is overgrazed utilizes and holds in place less moisture than before resulting in increased runoff and deep percolation.
5.2.2 Soil characteristics
Light textured soils having low moisture retention and high permeability in the recharge zone are more conducive to the formation of saline seeps at low points in the landscape. In some places the bed rock is of marine origin and its overburden is rich in soluble salts. Dissolution of this salt and its transportation with percolating water causes serious salinity problems. In many areas having saline seep problems the bed rock or the overburden are not of marine origin but the salts are derived from the normal weathering of the mineral constituents of the soil. Excess salts are rarely a problem in the place of their origin.
5.3 Prevention and management of saline seeps
5.3.1 Practices for the recharge area 5.3.2 Practices for the discharge areas
Since the cause of saline seeps is nearly always increased recharge in an upper area, any long-term solutions to the problem must include regional land use changes with the objective of at least partly restoring the original hydrological state. Apart from measures to restore the hydrologic equilibrium, site specific treatments of salt-affected land are required to restore their productivity. Since the problem is invariably complex, it is essential to devise an effective strategy for each region involving both regional land use changes and site treatment. For such strategies detailed investigations of the processes, sources and movement of salts must be worked out. Some of the more frequently recommended practices are discussed below.
5.3.1 Practices for the recharge area
Any practices that will increase water use in the recharge areas or in other ways decrease the excess water which ultimately contributes to the seepage will help in the control of saline seeps. i. Intensive cropping Intensive cropping and elimination of long fallows result in increased water use in the recharge area, decreased seepage flow and therefore a reduced salinity problem. ii. Growing deep rooted perennials Crops differ significantly in their rooting depth and seasonal water use (Figure 40). Research in Montana (Brown and Miller, 1978) showed that among the crops tested, alfalfa had the deepest rooting system (6.10 m) and depleted the maximum soil water (787 mm). These scientists studied the effect of six years of cropping with alfalfa on a saline seep recharge discharge area. In 1971, the watertable depth was 0.30 m below the soil surface in the discharge area and at 6.2 m in the recharge area. Six years later the watertable dropped by 2.9 m in the discharge area and by 2.0 m in the recharge area. Research is also underway to test several other crops and cropping sequences in relation to control of saline seeps. iii. Drainage Surface drainage of natural and man-made ponds in the recharge area is an effective, important and often inexpensive method of controlling excess water in the seepage areas. Drainage of ponded water in the recharge area should be preferred over drainage measures in the seep area. In the latter, additional problems are encountered which include disposal of saline effluents, lack of adequate outlets, etc. While surface drainage may be adequate for removing excess water from the recharge areas, it is often necessary to resort to subsurface drainage in the discharge areas which is a costly proposition. Figure 40 Plant available soil water content as influenced by various cropping systems (Brown et al., 1976)
5.3.2 Practices for the discharge areas
i. Cropping As in the case of recharge areas, intensive cropping involving perennial and deep rooted crops having a high water use helps in maintaining the watertable at greater depths and checks salinization. ii. Drainage The objective of drainage in the discharge areas is to lower the watertable and desalinize the root zone through leaching. Artificial subsurface drainage and leaching by applied water are generally not economic in the dryland areas. Even so, drainage works have been installed with variable performance in limited areas. Sommerfeldt et al. (1978) experimented with mole drains which are made by pulling a bullet shaped object through the soil with a mole plough. It consists primarily of a beam with a perpendicular blade extending downwards. On the end of the blade is the bullet shaped object which leaves a channel. The drains are quickly installed and the installation cost is low. Mole drains perform best in soils with sufficient clay content to be cohesive and where the soil is wet enough to be plastic. The disadvantages of the mole drains are the limited depth (60 to 70 cm) to which these can be made and their relatively short life span (2 to 3 years). According to Van der Pluym (1978) and Miller et al. (1981) subsurface drainage of most saline seep discharge areas is unfeasible because of extremely low permeability of soils resulting from high content of montmorillonite clay and often high SAR of the soil solution,
problems of waste disposal, poor accessibility for heavy drainage equipment and difficulty in locating saline seep focal points. Also the cost of materials and installation is relatively high and is often more than the land price. From these considerations, it would be better to provide drainage and adopt excess water control measures in the recharge area rather than to control the watertable through drainage in the discharge areas. iii. Salt-tolerant crops Planting salt-tolerant species is an effective way of obtaining some economic returns while efforts are being made to improve the saline seeps. Investigations on the relative tolerance of plant species in several Australian states have indicated the value of growing the following in the saline seep areas (Mitchel et al. 1978):
Agropyron elongatum Atriplex spp. Hordeum hystrix Kochia brevifolia Lolium rigidum Paspalum vaginatum Puccinellia ciliata Sporobolus virginicus Trifolium fragiferum; T. glomeratum T. resupinatum T. subterranum
Studies in Canada (Van der Pluym, 1978) showed that for soils affected by moderate salinity levels, ECe up to 8.5 dS/m, among the cereal crops tested, 6-row barley outyielded all other types and varieties. For soils with higher salinity levels a mixture of alfalfa and salttolerant grasses like Agropyron elongatum, Agropyron cristatum, Agropyron trachycaulum and Festuca elatior was found to perform well. Where soil salinity levels were even higher, (more than 14.0 dS/m), annual crops or grasses were not recommended. Under these conditions Kochia scoparia, a prolific growing native weed, was allowed to grow and had excellent feed value.
6. WATER QUALITY AND CROP PRODUCTION
6.1 Hazards associated with water quality 6.2 Salinity problems 6.3 Management practices for efficient use of high salinity water 6.4 The sodicity (alkali) problem 6.5 The toxicity problem 6.6 Management practices
Crop production in the arid and semi-arid regions is dependent on irrigated agriculture. The hot and dry climates of these regions require that the irrigation water does not contain soluble salts in amounts that are harmful to the plants or have an adverse effect on the soil properties. Water of such quality is usually not available in sufficient quantities to satisfy the water requirements of all the crops grown. Under these conditions the farmers are obliged
to use irrigation water with high quantities of dissolved salts, invariably accompanied by yield reductions of most crops. Indiscriminate use of such water can often lead to crop failures and to the development of saline or sodic soils which, in turn, require expensive treatment to make them productive again. On the other hand, when saline water is skilfully used, it can contribute to the successful production of a variety of crops. The original source of salts in irrigation water is the rock that forms a part of the earth’s crust - it is constantly subject to weathering which releases salts to be carried away by water. When the soil becomes truly saline, the visible surface evidence might be a white crust or dark, moist, oily looking patch. However, salt accumulation begins to affect crop yields long before visible signs of its presence appear.
6.1 Hazards associated with water quality
6.1.1 Salinity hazard 6.1.2 Sodicity (alkali) hazard 6.1.3 Toxicity hazard
There are three principal problems that can arise from the quality of irrigation water delivered to the agricultural fields.
6.1.1 Salinity hazard
This is directly related to the quantity of salts dissolved in the irrigation water. All irrigation water contains potentially injurious salts and nearly all the dissolved salts are left in the soil after the applied water is lost by evaporation from the soil or through transpiration by the plants. Unless the salts are leached from the root zone, sooner or later they will accumulate in quantities which will partially or entirely prevent growth of most crops.
6.1.2 Sodicity (alkali) hazard
This is another problem often confronting long-term use of certain water for irrigation and relates to the maintenance of adequate soil permeability so that the water can infiltrate and move freely through the soil. The problem develops when irrigation water contains relatively more sodium ions than divalent calcium and magnesium ions while the total concentration of salts is generally not very high. Accumulation of sodium ions on to the exchange complex results in a breakdown of soil aggregates responsible for good soil structure needed for free movement of water and air through the soils. As in the case of sodic soils, accumulation of sodium on the exchange complex can be reduced by applying appropriate quantities of amendments, e.g. gypsum.
6.1.3 Toxicity hazard
A third problem results from the existence, in some water, of such toxic substances as boron or heavy metals. Boron, though an essential element for plant growth and nutrition, is required only in very small amounts. A high concentration of boron in the irrigation water can have a toxic effect on the growth of many plants. Similarly, certain other ions, e.g. chloride, sodium, etc., could prove toxic to specific crops if present in excessive quantities. There are other factors which could influence the suitability of water for irrigation but one or more of the above factors are of concern in most situations and are discussed below.
6.2 Salinity problems
A salinity problem related to water quality occurs if the total quantity of salts in the irrigation water is such that the salts accumulate in the root zone to the extent that crop yields are adversely affected. The salinity level of an irrigation water can be determined directly by evaporation of a known quantity of water and measuring the residue of dissolved salts that remain. The results are often expressed in parts of salt per million parts of water (mg/l). An indirect and a more common method of determining the salt content of an irrigation water is to measure its electrical conductivity (EC). The greater the conductivity, the greater is its salt content. EC of irrigation water is expressed in deci Siemens per metre at 25 °C (dS/m), superseding the old millimhos per centimetre (mmho/cm). Irrigation water has a wide range of total salinity. Most surface irrigation water, whose source is snow-fed rivers, has a total salinity of less than about 0.5 to 0.6 dS/m. Groundwater in the semi-arid and arid regions has generally higher salinity and may vary from less than one dS/m to more than 12 to 15 dS/m. Sea water is highly saline with an average total soluble salts content of about 35 g/l corresponding to an electrical conductivity of about 50 dS/m. The higher the total salinity of an irrigation water, the higher is its salinity hazard for the crops if the soil and climatic conditions and the cultural practices remain the same. Soil, crop, climatic and cultural factors which promote accumulation of soluble salts in the root zone are inimical to the utilization of high salinity water for irrigation. Similarly, factors that promote leaching of salts from the root zone through periodic leaching favour the utilization of high salinity water for irrigation. Under favourable conditions groundwater with salinity of more than 10 dS/m has been used for the production of semi-tolerant crops like wheat in coarse textured soils (Paliwal, 1972; Manchanda, 1976) with only slight yield reductions. On the other hand unfavourable soil and climatic conditions and/or poor management have resulted in serious salinity problems even with the use of water of as low salinity as 0.4 to 0.5 dS/m. Ayers and Westcot (1985) reviewed the existing information on the subject and developed practical guidelines for evaluating water quality for irrigation. These guidelines, reproduced in Table 43, are intended to be of help for preliminary evaluation of the suitability of a water supply for irrigation. In arriving at these guidelines the authors made certain basic assumptions which must be kept in view while evaluating any irrigation water for its suitability. These assumptions are: Yield Potential: Full production capability of all crops, without the use of special practices, is assumed when the guidelines indicate no restrictions on use. A ‘restriction on use’ indicates that there may be a limitation in choice of crop, or special management may be
needed to maintain full production capability. A ‘restriction on use’ does not indicate that the water is unsuitable for use. Site Conditions: Soil texture ranges from sandy loam to clay loam with good internal drainage. There is no uncontrolled shallow water table present within 2 metres of the surface. The climate is semi-arid to arid and rainfall is low. Rainfall does not play a significant role in meeting crop water demand or leaching requirement. (However, in a monsoon climate or in areas where precipitation is high for part or all of the year, infiltrated water from rainfall is effective in meeting all or part of the leaching requirement; in these cases, the restrictions are less severe.) Methods and Timing of Irrigations: Normal surface or sprinkler irrigation methods are used. Water is applied infrequently, as needed, and the crop utilizes a considerable portion of the available stored soil-water (50 percent or more) before the next irrigation. At least 15 percent of the applied water percolates below the root zone (leaching fraction [LF] ³15 percent). The guidelines are too restrictive for specialized irrigation methods, such as localized drip irrigation, which results in near daily or frequent irrigations, but are applicable for subsurface irrigation if surface applied leaching satisfies the leaching requirements. Water Uptake by Crops: Different crops have different water uptake patterns, but all take water from wherever it is most readily available within the rooting depth. On average about 40 percent is assumed to be taken from the upper quarter of the rooting depth, 30 percent from the second quarter, 20 percent from the third quarter, and 10 percent from the lowest quarter. Each irrigation leaches the upper root zone and maintains it at a relatively low salinity. Salinity increases with depth and is greatest in the lower part of the root zone. The average salinity of the soil-water is three times that of the applied water and is representative of the average root zone salinity to which the crop responds. These conditions result from a leaching fraction of 15-20 percent and irrigations that are timed to keep the crop adequately watered at all times. Salts leached from the upper root zone accumulate to some extent in the lower part but a salt balance is achieved as salts are moved below the root zone by sufficient leaching. The higher salinity in the lower root zone becomes less important if adequate moisture is maintained in the upper, ‘more active’ part of the root zone and long-term leaching is accomplished. Restriction on Use: The ‘Restriction on Use’ shown in Table 43 is divided into three degrees of severity: none, slight to moderate, and severe. The divisions are somewhat arbitrary since change occurs gradually and there is no clear-cut breaking point. A change of 10 to 20 percent above or below a guideline value has little significance if considered in proper perspective with other factors affecting yield. Field studies, research trials and observations have led to these divisions, but management skill of the water user can alter them. Values shown are applicable under normal field conditions prevailing in most irrigated areas in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Ordinarily no soil or cropping problem due to water quality would be experienced or recognized when using water containing less than the values shown for no restriction on use in Table 43. On the other hand, if water is used which exceeds the values shown for the
‘severe’ restriction on use, the user will probably experience soil or cropping problems. With water quality values between these guides, a gradually increasing restriction on use is likely to be experienced as the water quality deteriorates. Specific conditions that may warrant a modification in the suggested values include the leaching fraction, the conditions of drainage, method of irrigation, the climate including rainfall, physical soil conditions, tolerance of crops shown to salinity and the chemical soil characteristics. Several workers (Pla and Dappo, 1976; Massoumi, 1976) have proposed classifications in respect of water quality to suit local soil and environmental conditions. Bhumbla and Abrol (1972) suggested guidelines (Table 44) for Indian conditions where invariably a rainfall of 300 to 400 mm or more is received in the monsoon season which leaches down the salts accumulated in the preceding cropping season. Table 43 GUIDELINES FOR INTERPRETATION OF MATER QUALITY FOR IRRIGATION1 (Ayers and Westcot, 1985)
Potential Irrigation Problem Salinity (affects crop water availability) 2 Ecw (or) TDS Units Degree of Restriction on Use Slight to Moderate Severe 0.7 - 3.0 450 - 2000 and SAR together)3 0.7 - 0.2 1.2 - 0.3 1.9 - 0.5 2.9 - 1.3 5.0 - 2.9 > 3.0 > 2000
None < 0.7 < 450
Infiltration (affects infiltration rate of water into the soil. Evaluate using EC W SAR = 0 - 3 and ECW = > 0.7 w =3-6 = > 1.2 = 6 - 12 = > 1.9 = 12 - 20 = > 2.9 = 20 - 40 = > 5.0 Specific Ion Toxicity (affects sensitive crops) Sodium (Na)4 surface irrigation SAR <3 sprinkler irrigation mmol/l <3 Chloride (Cl)4 surface irrigation sprinkler irrigation
< 0.2 < 0.3 < 0.5 < 1.3 < 2.9
<4 <3 < 0.7
4 - 10 >3 0.7 - 3.0
Boron (B)5 mg/l Trace Elements (see Table 21) Miscellaneous Effects (affects susceptible crops) Nitrogen (NO3 - N)6 mg/l Bicarbonate (HCO3) (overhead sprinkling mmol/l only) pH
<5 < 1.5
5 - 30 1.5 - 8.5 Normal Range 6.5 - 8.4
> 30 > 8.5
1. Adapted from University of California Committee of Consultants 1974. 2. ECW means electrical conductivity, a measure of the water salinity, reported in deci Siemens per metre at 25°C (dS/m) formerly millimhos per centimetre (mmho/cm). Both are equivalent. TDS means total dissolved solids, reported in milligrams per litre (mg/l). 3. SAR means sodium adsorption ratio. SAR is sometimes reported by the symbol RNa. At a given SAR, infiltration rate increases as water salinity increases. 4. For surface irrigation, most tree crops and woody plants are sensitive to sodium and chloride, while most annual crops are not sensitive. For chloride tolerance of selected fruit crops, see Table 18. With overhead sprinkler irrigation and low humidity (< 30 percent), sodium and chloride may be absorbed through the leaves of sensitive crops. 5. For boron tolerances, see Table 45. 6. NO3 -N means nitrate nitrogen reported in terms of elemental nitrogen (NH 4 -N and Organic-N should be included when wastewater is being tested).
Table 44 GUIDELINES FOR INTERPRETATION OF WATER QUALITY FOR IRRIGATION UNDER INDIAN CONDITIONS (Bhumbla and Abrol, 1972)
Crops to be grown Semitolerant Tolerant Semitolerant Tolerant Semitolerant Tolerant Semitolerant Tolerant Upper permissible limit of EC of water for safe use for irrigation, dS/m 1.5 2 2 4 4 6 6 8
Soil Deep black soils and alluvial soils having a clay content of more than 30 percent. Soils that are fairly to moderately well drained. Heavy textured soils having a clay content of 20-30%. Soils that are well drained internally and have a good surface drainage system. Medium textured soils having a clay content of 10-20%. Soils that are very well drained internally and have a good surface drainage system. Light textured soils having a clay content of less than 10%. Soils that have excellent internal and surface drainage.
1. A monsoon rainfall of 300 to 400 mm is common for most areas having a groundwater quality problem. This rainfall periodically leaches out salts accumulated in the root zone during the previous season. 2. In the above proposed limits of water quality it is presumed that the groundwater table at no time of the year is within 1.5 metres from the surface. If the water table does come up within the root zone the above limits need to be reduced to half the above values. 3. If the soils have impeded internal drainage either on account of presence of hard pans, unusually high amounts of clay or other morphologic reasons, for advisory purposes, the limit of water quality should again be reduced to half. 4. If the waters contain soluble sodium percentage more than 70, gypsum should be added to soil occasionally.
5. If supplemental canal irrigation is available, water of higher electrical conductivity could be used in periods of water shortage.
6.3 Management practices for efficient use of high salinity water
6.3.1 More frequent irrigation 6.3.2 Selection of salt tolerant crops and varieties 6.3.3 Use of extra water for leaching 6.3.4 Conjunctive use of fresh and saline waters 6.3.5 Cultural practices
It would thus seem that there can be very wide variations in the permissible limits of salinity levels of water for irrigation. For this reason any rigid generalizations may prove disadvantageous for field level workers and there is need to develop guidelines for each major area having similar soil, climatic and agricultural conditions. More important however is our ability to use a water of a particular salinity level under a given set of conditions. Management practices can often be modified to obtain a more favourable distribution of salts in the profile and therefore better crop yields, water quality remaining the same. Management practices that can help to overcome a high salinity problem of the irrigation water are discussed below. Desalinization of water to remove soluble salts has often been referred to as a technical possibility but at the present stage of available technologies it is doubtful if this method can have any large-scale application in the utilization of saline water for irrigation of most agricultural crops, at least in the near future.
6.3.1 More frequent irrigation
The adverse effects of the high salinity of irrigation water on the crops can be minimized by irrigating them frequently. More frequent irrigations maintain higher soil water contents in the upper parts of the root zone while reducing the concentration of soluble salts. Both these factors result in reduced effect of high salts on the availability of water to plants and therefore promote better crop growth. The sprinkler method of irrigation is generally more amenable to increased frequency of water applications. In surface irrigation methods however, more frequent irrigations almost invariably result in an appreciable increase in water use.
6.3.2 Selection of salt tolerant crops and varieties
As indicated in previous sections, there is a wide range in the relative tolerance of agricultural crops to soil salinity. Proper choice of crops can result in good returns even when using high salinity water, whereas use of such water for growing a relatively saltsensitive crop may be questionable. Similarly, selection and breeding of salt-resistant crop varieties offer tremendous possibilities of utilizing saline water resources for crop
production. Some workers have suggested induction of salt tolerance by soaking seeds for a certain period in salt solutions as a method for obtaining increased yields in saline water irrigated soils, while others suggest that growing seeds obtained from parents that have been irrigated with saline water helps in obtaining higher crop yields. These suggestions, however, have not been tested extensively on a field scale.
6.3.3 Use of extra water for leaching
To prevent excessive salt accumulation in the soil, it is necessary to remove salts periodically by application of water in excess of the consumptive use. The excess water applied will remove salts from the root zone provided the soil has adequate internal drainage. This concept (Richards, 1954) is quantified in the term ‘leaching requirement’ often referred to by the abbreviation, LR. By definition, leaching requirement (LR) is the fraction of total water applied that must drain below the root zone to restrict salinity to a specified level according to the level of tolerance of the crop.
where D is the depth of water,
and dw and iw refer respectively to the drainage and irrigation water. Assuming strict salt balance conditions in the soil-water system: Diw x Ciw = Ddw x Cdw where C refers to the concentration of salts. Therefore,
This would imply that the excess amount of irrigation water of a known EC that must be applied is determined by the maximum permissible EC of the drainage water specified for a particular crop. The values of ECdw represent the maximum salinity tolerated by the species grown under particular conditions. The leaching requirement for a particular crop may be illustrated by use of salt tolerance data (Figure 9). For barley, where a value of ECdw = 8 dS/m can be tolerated, leaching requirement = ECiw/8. Thus for irrigation water with conductivities of 1, 2 and 4 dS/m respectively, the leaching requirement will be 12, 25 and 50 percent. In actual irrigation practice, the applicability of the leaching requirement concept has had some limitations. In the normal surface irrigation methods there are invariably 10 to 20 percent or more losses due to deep percolation of water beyond the root zone in most light and medium textured soils and this takes care of the leaching requirements for salinity control. In heavy textured soils and in soils having expanding type clay minerals applying 15 to 20 percent more water is often difficult during the crop season due to poor permeability
and consequent aeration problems. Leaching accomplished periodically through seasonal rainfall may also result in adequate salt removal from the root zone. Application of excess water, above that needed for meeting the evapotranspirational needs, though useful for salinity control, puts a high demand on the water resources on the one hand and increases the salt load of the drainage water on the other. Studies by Bernstein and Francois (1973) have shown that reducing the leaching fraction has only a small effect on the salinity of the upper root zone since this area is adequately leached during each irrigation. As a result of these and other studies (Rhoades et al., 1973), it is now suggested that the leaching fraction can be reduced from the values suggested by earlier methods and adequate crop yields can still be obtained. It therefore appears that controlling the interval between irrigations is the most important management practice for obtaining higher yields with high salinity water and this could be achieved by the sprinkler, drip or the surface irrigation methods.
6.3.4 Conjunctive use of fresh and saline waters
There are situations where good quality water is available for irrigation but not in adequate quantities to meet the evapotranspirational needs of crops. Under these conditions, the strategies for obtaining maximum crop production could include mixing of high salinity water with good quality water to obtain irrigation water of medium salinity for use throughout the cropping season. Alternatively, good quality water could be used for irrigation at the more critical stages of growth, e.g. germination, and the saline water at the stages where the crop has relatively more tolerance. Further research is needed to define the best options considering the tolerance of crops at different growth stages, critical stages of growth vis-avis soil salinity, etc.
6.3.5 Cultural practices
Cultural practices can often be modified to reduce the hazard of high salts in the irrigation water. Similarly a modification in the method of irrigation can result in improved use of water for some crops. These aspects have been discussed earlier.
6.4 The sodicity (alkali) problem
6.4.1 Role of magnesium 6.4.2 Management practices for efficient use of water with sodicity hazard
Prolonged use of certain irrigation water results in reduced crop yields due to deterioration in the soil physical properties. The adverse effect of irrigation water quality on soil physical properties is associated with the accumulation of sodium ion on the soil exchange complex which imparts instability to the soil aggregates and whose disruption followed by dispersion
of clay particles results in clogging of soil pores. Sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) of the irrigation water defined by the equation below,
with concentration of ions in millimol (+)/1, has, for a long time, been suggested as a measure of the sodicity/alkali hazard of irrigation water (Richards, 1954). For SAR values greater than 6 to 9, the irrigation water could be expected to cause permeability problems in soils which contain swelling type clay minerals. Eaton (1950) suggested that Residual Sodium Carbonate (RSC) defined by the formula: RSC = (CO3 - + HCO3-) - (Ca++ + Mg++), is a good index of the sodicity hazard of an irrigation water. The anions HCO 3- and CO3 - in the irrigation water tend to precipitate calcium and magnesium ions in the soil resulting in an increase in the proportion of the sodium ions. For this reason, RSC was considered to be indicative of the sodicity hazard of water. Wilcox (1958) concluded that water with more than 2.5 mmol (+)/1 of RSC is not suitable for irrigation. Water containing 1.25 to 2.5 mmol (+)/1 was considered marginal and that with less than 1.25 mmol (+)/1 probably safe. Bower and Maasland (1963) proposed a modification in the old SAR procedure to include changes in soil water composition that are expected to result due to dissolution/precipitation of lime in the soil upon irrigation. This approach used the Langelier saturation index to estimate carbonate precipitation as a function of CaCO3saturation of the soil solution. The index as applied to soils is, SI = (8.4 - pH) where 8.4 is the approximate pH of a non-sodic soil in equilibrium with CaCO3 and pH = (pK2 - pKC) + p (Ca + Mg) + p (CO3 + HCO3) where K2 and KC are the second dissociation constant of H2CO3 and the solubility constant of CaCO3 respectively and (Ca + Mg) and (CO3 + HCO3) are the molar concentrations of the respective ions; p refers to the negative logarithm of the various variables. Ayers and Westcot (1976) calculated adjusted SAR using the semi-quantitative equation: adj. SAR = SAR [1 + (8.4 - pHC)] It was held that the adj. SAR would more correctly predict the sodicity hazard of an irrigation water than either the SAR or the RSC concept. However, in their revision and updating of Irrigation and Drainage Paper No. 29 (1985, Rev. 1), they state that the procedure is no longer recommended. Excess exchangeable sodium causes the stable soil aggregates to disperse and impart poor air/water permeability only in the absence of excess electrolytes. In nature generally, as the salinity of the waters increases, the SAR also increases. Thus most irrigation water
that has a high salinity hazard also has a high SAR but such water does not have a sodicity (alkali) hazard. Thus it is extremely doubtful if SAR or adj. SAR alone could predict the sodicity hazard of an irrigation water. On the other hand, when appreciable quantities of residual sodium carbonate (RSC) are present, the total salinity of water is often low to medium and rarely more than 2 dS/m. Under conditions of low to medium total salinity, water having high residual sodium carbonate (RSC) can have an appreciable sodicity hazard. The concept of residual sodium carbonate appears to relate better to the sodicity problem in the field. However, further research will lead to better predictive approaches for judging the suitability of water for irrigation.
6.4.1 Role of magnesium
In recent years research efforts have been made to define precisely the relative role of magnesium ions vis-a-vis monovalent sodium and divalent calcium ions in influencing soil properties and therefore in developing appropriate modifications in the criteria for quality rating of water with a high proportion of magnesium ions. Amongst the earlier efforts was the work of Antipov-Karataev and Manaeva (1958) and of Arany (1956). These authors believed that the role of magnesium was different to that of calcium because of their varying affinities for adsorption on the exchange complex. Others (Quirk and Schofield, 1955; ElSwaify et al., 1970) had shown similarity between the effects of magnesium and calcium. Emerson and Chi (1977) observed that the ESP required to produce a given decrease in the flow rate was reduced when magnesium was the complementary cation rather than calcium. Similarly Yadav and Girdhar (1981) reported increased dispersion of clay particles and reduced hydraulic conductivity when the Mg/Ca ratio was increased at a given SAR and electrolyte concentration of the leaching water. Studies by Rowell and Shainberg (1979) and Alperovitch et al. (1981) similarly have shown that magnesium has a specific effect on clay dispersion and loss of hydraulic conductivity of non-calcareous soils, but the calcareous soils which have higher mineral dissolution rates were less affected and did not show the specific effect of magnesium on either clay dispersion or hydraulic conductivity losses. A better understanding of the role of magnesium in relation to other ions will provide more sound criteria for judging the suitability of different water for irrigation under different soil and agroclimatic conditions.
6.4.2 Management practices for efficient use of water with sodicity hazard
As in the case of irrigation water with a salinity hazard, appropriate management practices can often help in better and more efficient use of water with a high sodicity hazard. These practices include: i. Application of amendments Since accumulation of the sodium ion on the exchange complex is mainly responsible for poor soil physical properties, irrigation water having a sodicity hazard could be improved by increasing the soluble calcium status of the water, thereby decreasing the proportion of sodium to the divalent cations and therefore its adsorption on the soil exchange complex. Applied soluble calcium salts will also neutralize the bicarbonate and carbonate ions thereby reducing the sodicity hazard of the water. The quantity of an amendment that must be applied, the mode and frequency of application etc.,
are some of the practical questions. Bhumbla and Abrol (1972) recommended that for RSC values up to 2 mmol (+)/1 there was no need to apply an amendment. For higher RSC values, the required amounts of amendment should be calculated and the recommendations made accordingly. Thus the gypsum needed to decrease RSC by 1 mmol (+)/1 works out to 850 kg per hectare metre of water. Gypsum can be either incorporated in the soil or lumps of gypsum can be suitably placed in the water channel to dissolve gradually. Sulphuric acid has also been used to amend water quality and can be applied directly to the soil or in the irrigation water. It rapidly neutralizes the sodic constituents of water or reacts with lime in the soil to produce soluble calcium. On an equivalent basis, however, the effect is nearly the same as that of gypsum. Being corrosive, handling of sulphuric acid presents problems which must be overcome through proper application techniques. ii. Mixing with an alternate source of water If an alternate source of irrigation water is available, mixing the two sources may be helpful in obtaining water which is acceptable for irrigation considering its sodicity hazard. Detailed chemical analysis and the quantities in which the water is available from the two sources can help in deciding the proportions in which they need to be mixed. iii. Irrigating more frequently Irrigating frequently with small quantities of water is an effective way to manage water with a sodicity hazard. Reduced permeability of the soils restricts water supply to the roots. Also applying large amounts at a time can result in surface stagnation which affects most crops adversely. Frequent irrigations could also reduce the precipitation of calcium by reaction with bicarbonates in water by keeping the soils wet. Using sprinkler irrigation with the ability to supply controlled amounts of water at a time should be considered where feasible. iv. Growing crops with low water requirements When the irrigation water tends to create a sodicity problem, it is advisable to use small quantities of water, waters with significant quantities of residual sodium carbonate (RSC) will cause a continuous increase in the exchangeable sodium status of soils and therefore the need to limit water use. Unlike saline water, where application over and above the evapotranspiration requirements is recommended, extra application of water with a sodicity hazard will further aggravate the problem. If feasible, growing crops and irrigating during periods of high evapotranspiration demands should be avoided. v. Growing tolerant crops Growing crops tolerant of excess exchangeable sodium and poor soil physical conditions will help obtain better returns than if sensitive crops are grown. vi. Organic matter applications Heavy dressings of organic manures, regular incorporation of crop residues, application of such organic materials as rice hulls, sawdust, sugar factory wastes, etc., have all been found useful in maintaining and improving soil physical properties and in counteracting the adverse effect of high levels of exchangeable sodium. Wherever feasible therefore, organic matter applications are especially recommended if irrigation water has a sodicity hazard.
6.5 The toxicity problem
Apart from the salinity or the sodicity hazard, the constituents of much irrigation water may cause toxicity problems when taken up by the plants in excess amounts. The toxic constituents of major concern are sodium, chloride and boron. Fruit trees, vines and woody ornamentals are especially sensitive to sodium and chloride ions. Most annual crops are not so sensitive but may be affected by higher concentrations. Sodium and chloride ions are freely taken up by the plants and become concentrated as water is lost through transpiration. Toxicity results when the concentration of these elements exceeds the tolerance limits of the plants. ‘Leaf burn’ scorch, and dead tissue along the outside edges of leaves are typical symptoms of sodium toxicity which first occur in the oldest leaves, usually appearing as a burn or drying of tissue at the outer edges of the leaf. As the severity increases, the drying progresses towards the leaf centre until the entire tissue is dead. Injury due to chloride toxicity however, typically, starts at the extreme leaf tip of older leaves and progresses from the tip back as the severity increases. A slight excess of boron in the irrigation water or in the soil solution can cause toxicity to a variety of crops. Boron is taken up by the crop and is accumulated. For example, as little as 0.6 mg elemental boron per litre in the irrigation water may produce toxicity symptoms in citrus leaves; 1 mg/l may reduce the yields of citrus and certain stone fruits and 4 mg/l is harmful to many crops. Table 45 presents the recent revision of the data on boron tolerance of agricultural crops (Maas, 1984). Other constituents of some irrigation water, such as lithium, selenium, molybdenum, fluoride and chromium may have deleterious effects on plants or animals even at very low concentration; however their occurrence in irrigation water has only very occasionally been reported.
6.6 Management practices
Field practices that can eliminate or reduce the hazard due to presence of toxic elements include irrigating the crops more frequently. Frequent irrigations reduce the effective concentration of toxic constituents and therefore their adverse effect. Occasional application of excess water to leach the salts will further reduce the amounts of toxic elements in the root zone. Accumulation of sodium in plant parts can usually be reduced by maintaining a favourable concentration of calcium ions in the soil solution. Adequate quantities of calcium in the irrigation water and soil solution prevent excessive uptake of sodium by plants. Application of amendments, such as soluble calcium salts or sulphuric acid, can therefore greatly reduce the toxicity hazard due to excess sodium. Blending of water supplies, planting less sensitive crops, improving drainage conditions through profile modification, use of fertilizers in optimum doses to obtain otherwise vigorously growing plants etc. are some of the other practices that will help overcome toxicity problems.
7. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS IN RECLAMATION AND MANAGEMENT OF SALT-AFFECTED SOILS
7.1 Faulty irrigation schemes 7.2 Extensive vs. intensive irrigation 7.3 Deforestation 7.4 Water pricing 7.5 Size of holding and land consolidation 7.6 Land tenure system 7.7 Role of appropriate technology 7.8 Extension and farmers’ education programmes
Socio-economic and even political considerations often become extremely important in accentuating the problems of land degradation through salinization, sodication and related processes. Such factors are often beyond the control of individual farmers and for this reason appropriate policy decisions and corrective measures become the responsibility of respective governments. Some of the more important factors are discussed below.
7.1 Faulty irrigation schemes
The introduction of irrigation is often considered a solution to the pressing problems of the arid and semi-arid regions. However, there are numerous examples of soils degraded and lost to production due to ill conceived or poorly implemented irrigation schemes. The most serious problems in irrigation development do not relate to the storage and delivery of water but to the secondary effects of irrigation. According to an FAO study there has been a galloping inflation in the cost of land and water resources development. Thus the development cost of surface irrigation, including storage dams, drainage and on-farm works per hectare increased from US $500 to 2000 in 1970/71 to more than US $10 000 in 1980. This figure is likely to increase further in the future as the easier and simpler projects are completed leaving the increasingly difficult projects. Because of the high costs involved to make the irrigation projects operational, there is a tendency to find only the money required for the rapid establishment of irrigation facilities in order to grow marketable crops quickly and to defer or omit drainage works in the hope that either they will not be required or that the necessary funds will be found when the project is producing a profit. Unfortunately, the cost of providing drainage and reclamation when the problems of waterlogging and salinity have already appeared are much more, apart from the huge losses already incurred through partial or complete loss of production of many areas. For any lasting success, all irrigation projects need sound drainage networks considering soil, climatic, geohydrological and geochemical factors as also the social and economic setting of the region. If the drainage networks are put into operation at the same time as the water supply from canals, a great saving will ultimately result to the project. In practice, the time gap between the start and completion of a major irrigation project may normally extend to over 10 to 15 years. Often the increased costs during this period result in spending the entire project money on the construction of storage works, main and secondary canals, leaving little or no money for investment in ‘on-farm irrigation development’. As a result, a sizable portion of the water delivered to the farms is wasted
due to irregular distribution within the farm, deep percolation losses below the root zone and surface evaporation during application (Plate 13). This results in the development of a high water table and salinity problems much sooner than anticipated. This calls for appropriate allocation of money within the project funds for ‘on-farm water management’ including lining of field channels and water courses to prevent seepage losses, proper land shaping, field layouts for uniform water application, etc. Plate 13 Improper levelling resulting in improper water distribution is one of the major reasons for poor on-farm water use efficiency
7.2 Extensive vs. intensive irrigation
Water resources being limited, a choice has always to be made whether to bring a relatively small area under intensive irrigation, i.e. to grow two or more crops in a year or to adopt a protective type of irrigation on a large area. In theory, concentrated watering, considering the water requirements in an intensive cropping agriculture along with provision of adequate drainage, will be more conducive to the control of salts in the root zone. In practice however, when irrigation projects are planned there is a tendency to bring more area under irrigation than the available water resources would permit under an intensive agriculture. This is done for political and largely social reasons. For example, in India although it has been realized that concentrated efforts to irrigate areas with the most favourable climate and soil and topographical conditions would cost less and would give substantial increases in production, it would at the same time amount to postponing irrigation indefinitely in areas where the agricultural population is living on subsistence agriculture with the perpetual hazards of drought and other vagaries of nature. For this reason the government has adopted a judicious combination of extensive and intensive irrigation since the national policy is to reduce the economic gap between one section of the people and another, and also to minimize regional imbalances. Spreading water over a wide area often leads to speeding up the rate of salinization without eliminating the rising groundwater table. This is so because insufficient water is available to meet both the crop water requirements and the leaching requirements for the control of salts in the root zone.
Human interferences resulting in indiscriminate and large-scale deforestation in recent years has been an important factor that has resulted in altering the water balance of large areas, in many cases resulting in serious salinization problems both in the irrigated and unirrigated areas. Unfortunately this fact has not been taken seriously and this is the reason for lack of systematic studies to evaluate the magnitude of the problem in many developing countries. Australian work has shown that reduced evapotranspiration, which is common when the native forests are converted to agriculture involving non-irrigated annual crops, may result in a build-up of the water table. In one study it was estimated that the increased recharge to groundwater due to a change from native woodland and forest to dry farming ranged from 23 to 430 mm per year (Peck, 1975). Such an alteration in the groundwater balance disturbs the distribution of salts and has resulted in widespread salinization problems in many parts of the world. The solutions to the problem appear complex but most include rational land use aimed at partly restoring the original hydrologic balance together with site treatments which must be chosen in accordance with local conditions.
7.4 Water pricing
Existing water laws and water pricing systems are yet another factor determining the efficiency of on-farm water use. In most developing countries irrigation is supplied free of charge, although in some taxes are levied to mobilize resources for financing irrigation works. The farmers who operate their own pumps or buy water from pumps owned by others must pay for the amount of water they use. The water use efficiency of such farmers is therefore much higher than that of those who do not pay for water. The latter case has resulted in farmers using quantities of water in excess of that required to meet the crop consumptive use causing the problems of waterlogging and salinization. Although it might entail many difficulties, a change in the policy to charging for the water used will help increase over-all water use efficiencies and control salinity.
7.5 Size of holding and land consolidation
In many countries the land holdings are small and spread over a wide area. As a result, the attention of service agencies is diffused and much time and effort has to be concentrated on encouraging proper management of inputs by farmers. Land fragmentation and associated differences in cropping and management help the spread of secondary salinization. Differences in cropping patterns and irrigation regimes between adjacent farmers will cause migration of salts from high to low spots, from crop areas with more frequent irrigations to those with less frequent and from relatively wet soils to relatively dry soils. Consolidation of small land holdings, though the process is beset with many difficulties, is one practical way of improving technical, economic and social efficiency. Figure 41 presents the layout of a 120 ha pilot project area before and after land consolidation (Sinha and Borah, 1980). Out of 120 ha, only 97 ha were consolidated, the remaining 23 ha being left unconsolidated for comparison. The average size of the holdings in the project area before development was 0.35 ha, the sizes varying from 0.05 ha (minimum) to 3 ha (maximum); the individual plots were scattered and were still smaller, to the extent of 0.01 ha. The consolidation of land on a scientific basis was found essential for ease of water management and other agricultural operations. Therefore, after the acquisition of the land, it was micro-levelled to locate natural ridges and valleys along which the field channels and water course could be aligned. When the construction of channels and drains was over, plots were divided according to the holdings of the farmers in such a way that each plot had a direct access to the water course, the drain and farm land. Table 46 shows a very significant and interesting comparison which proves the usefulness of the consolidation of holdings. Figure 41 Layout of a 120 ha pilot project area before land consolidation Figure 41 Layout of a 120 ha pilot project area after land consolidation Table 46 COMPARATIVE FIGURES OF ON-FARM DEVELOPMENT WORK WITH AND WITHOUT CONSOLIDATION OF LAND HOLDINGS (Sinha and Borah, 1980)
Item Length of irrigation channel (m/ha) Without Consolidation 140 With Consolidation 85
Length of drains (m/ha) Length of roads (m/ha) Distance of remotest plot from the irrigation channel (m) Distance of remotest plot from the field drain (m) Area occupied by the channels and drains (% of the field area) Area occupied by roads (% of the field area) Length of field bunds (m/ha)
153 37 50.8 50.6 4.7 1.00 1 000
140 60 Negligible Negligible 3.8 1.55 375
When the holdings are fragmented or of small size and irregular shape, on-farm development without land consolidation is difficult, inefficient and expensive. Furthermore, the supply of water to each farmer and draining the land after rainfall and irrigation poses problems. Besides efficient water distribution and land shaping, land consolidation simplifies land use planning and helps cut down the time required for water to travel among plots. It also reduces the length of water courses and farm drains as the land used in boundaries is reduced when there is consolidation.
7.6 Land tenure system
The land tenure system can also play an important role in the spread of salinity. Many cultivators in developing countries, such as India and Pakistan, are share-tenants who are often moved around by the landlords to different plots each year. As a result the cultivators nave little interest in protecting the soil from degradation due to salinity or-other factors. On the other hand, long-term tenancy or private ownership of land will offer incentives for conservation measures including control of salanization.
7.7 Role of appropriate technology
7.7.1 Testing the technologies
Extreme pressure on land resources and the ever-growing need to produce more food for the increasing population require that the salt-affected soils be restored to productivity and effective steps taken to prevent desertification of new areas being brought under irrigation at huge cost. To accomplish this, it is necessary to develop appropriate technologies suited to a particular region or country. By the term ‘technology’ is meant the whole range of management practices that go into farm production in such areas. This includes the method of land preparation, best suited crops, varieties and cropping sequences, their fertilization and best suited cultural practices including planting techniques, best suited irrigation, drainage and on-farm water management practices, need of amendments, etc. And the term ‘appropriate’ implies that the technologies are relevant and adaptable down to the farmers’ level. In the context of developing countries the technologies developed, in general, must:
- be relevant to the development of the majority - be based on low levels of investment - be ecologically sound - be based primarily on local resources and skills - have high employment potential - be in harmony with rural traditional cultures, and - be able to contribute to the self-reliance of the rural economy. To illustrate this, although the basic principles involved in the reclamation and management of salt-affected soils are now well understood, the adoption of advanced technologies in an economically less advanced country may be difficult without overall economic development and an improvement in the level of education of the people. Thus, what might be possible for a farmer in the arid parts of California, USA, or in Australia by way of water management might be completely out of reach of the cultivators in arid Rajasthan in India. For example, in theory, while it is now well established that greater efficiency of water use and salt leaching can be accomplished by the adoption of sprinkler irrigation, for economic reasons it might be impossible to adopt this method over wide areas in most developing countries. And even if the economics permitted it, the adoption by illiterate farmers of such sophisticated water control equipment will present difficulties when it comes to maintenance, etc. As an example of the latter, in the past decade or so, millions of dollars have been invested in providing modern subsurface drainage systems in Iraq with the aim of restoring productivity to the land that has gone out of cultivation due to salinization. Iraqi farmers have had little or no experience with such drainage methods and are generally ignorant of them. A well designed and operated drainage system can greatly increase the productivity of irrigated agriculture but only if it is effective down to the farmer’s fields. The individual farmer must understand the importance of drainage. His full cooperation is necessary to maintain the field ditches and interception drains to ensure the functioning of the costly drainage system. Thus, in order to achieve the desired objectives of increased food production from these areas, it will be absolutely necessary to elevate the overall level of education of the farmers (Allahwardi, 1979). It is apparent, therefore, that if technology for the reclamation of salt-affected soils and for the prevention of the spread of salinity is to be effective and lead to continuous improvement in food production, it is essential that: - relevant farming technologies for such areas be developed to meet realistic goals considering the social, economic and political setting on the one hand, and tradition and level of education of the farmers on the other; - there is a continuous effort to improve upon the technologies as more scientific knowledge and experience is gained and as the economic conditions become more favourable. New or existing technology must be tailored to meet local conditions and this can best be accomplished by teams of scientists who are well aware of the constraints operative at the
farmers’ level. In other words, relevant research conducted by scientists who appreciate the social, cultural and political aspects of the country and who can guide team efforts towards the best solutions under the realities with which the farmers work. Research programmes of the necessary magnitude must be organized so as to provide continuous support to the field programmes aimed at improving the existing methodologies of reclamation and on-farm water management practices.
7.7.1 Testing the technologies
Scientific technology for the reclamation and management of salt-affected soils and for improved on-farm management practices must be tested on a pilot project scale before being transferred on a large scale to the farmers’ fields. The objectives of such a pilot project should include; - testing and demonstration of the new or existing technologies on the farmers’ fields; - modification of the technologies to suit the local conditions, if required; - critical calculation of the profitability and economics of the new technologies; - identification of bottlenecks in the transfer of technology whether they are of a technological, socio-economic or administrative nature. Only well tested technology with proven benefits should be passed on to the farmers. Pilot projects also serve to define the infrastructural needs and the various likely impediments in the transfer of technology. For example, while land shaping and levelling are the important components of any project aimed at improving the on-farm water management, many farmers do not have adequate resources and do not own the required implements and machinery required for this. Experience gained in the pilot project must define a strategy to accomplish this. Reclamation of sodic soils requires application of amendments. How can availability of the amendments to the farmers be ensured at appropriate cost? Should there be an element of subsidy? If yes, are institutional finances available or can they be mobilized? Often the solution to a salinity problem may lie outside the capability of a single farmer or even a group of farmers. Such is the case where natural drainage channels do not exist to allow the salt-laden drainage waters to be disposed of. Under such circumstances a central drainage facility or an evaporation pond area may have to be developed if the salinity problems of the area are to be solved. Sometimes it is helpful to use pumped groundwater for irrigation, particularly when the groundwater has low total salinity. This provides not only a source of irrigation but also acts as an effective drainage measure (Narayana et al. 1977; You and Wang, 1983). If the farmers are advised to install the wells, do they have the resources; what are the alternatives? If particular crops or crop varieties are recommended for adoption in an area, how can the availability of good seeds to the farmers be ensured? If it is intended to introduce or recommend new crops to be grown in an area for reasons of
greater tolerance to salinity or sodicity conditions, are there adequate marketing facilities for the produce? Workable answers to these and several other questions that arise at the testing stage must be arrived at so that when large-scale programmes are taken up, they are effective.
7.8 Extension and farmers’ education programmes
Irrigation farming calls for particular skills in the application of water and the tillage of irrigated soil if its great potential for increased productivity is to be developed and sustained. The efficiency of irrigation schemes rests, in the final analysis, on the individual cultivator who is the most important link in the chain of production. When irrigation is introduced in a new area the farmers of the region have had little or no experience in handling large quantities of water on the farm. Since the cultivator may be tradition bound and lack the benefit of education, effort and ingenuity must be applied to convert him into an efficient irrigator. To ensure steady progress in irrigation methods and water use efficiency the farmer must be kept informed of new ideas through organization of appropriate training and other extension programmes. Well designed and operated irrigation and drainage systems can increase the productivity of irrigated agriculture but only if they are effective right down to the farmer’s field. The individual farmer must understand the importance of land shaping and uniform water application, the need and desirability of irrigating crops based on available scientific information, the importance and best ways of maintenance of field, channels including proper lining procedures, best methods for control of weeds in irrigation and drainage channels, etc. A continuous effort to elevate the level of education of the cultivator will result in enhanced capability to manage the land and water resources with minimum degradation through salinization and related phenomena.
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1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. Soils of the arid zones of Chile, 1966 (E**) Survey of soil laboratory in 64 FAO member countries, 1965 (E**) Guide on general specialized equipment for soil laboratories, 1966 (E**) Guide to 60 soil water conservation practices, 1966 (E**) Selection of soil for cocoa, 1966 (C* E** F** S**) Aerial photo interpretation in soil survey, 1967 (E* F* S**) A practical manual of soil microbiology laboratory methods, 1967 (E**) Soil survey interpretation and its use, 1967 (E**) The preparation of soil survey reports, 1970 (E** F** S**) Physical and chemical methods of soil and water analysis, 1970 (E* F* S*) Soil fertility investigations on farmers’ fields, 1970 (E* F* S*) A study on the response of wheat to fertilizers, 1971 (E*) Land degradation, 1971 (C* E*) Improving soil fertility in Africa, 1971 (E** F**) Legislative principles of soil conservation, 1971 (E*)
16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38/1. 38/2. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57.
Effects of intensive fertilizer use on the human environment, 1972 (E*) Trace elements in soils and agriculture, 1972 (E* F* S*) Guide to the calibration of soil tests for fertilizer recommendations, 1973 (E* F* S**) Soil survey interpretation for engineering purposes, 1973 (E* F** S**) Fertilizer legislation, 1973 (E** S*) Calcareous soils, 1973 (E* F*) Approaches to land classification, 1974 (E**) Management properties of ferralsols, 1974 (E*) Shifting cultivation and soils conservation in Africa, 1974 (E* F* S*) Sandy soils, 1975 (E*) Planning and organization of fertilizer development in Africa, 1975 (E**) Organic materials as fertilizers, 1975 (E* F** S**) S.I. units and nomenclature in soil science, 1975 (E*) Land evaluation in Europe, 1976 (E**) Soil conservation in developing countries, 1976 (E* F* S**) Prognosis of salinity and alkalinity, 1976 (E*) A framework for land evaluation, 1976 (C* E* F* S*) Soil conservation and management in developing countries, 1977 (E* F*) Assessing soil degradation, 1977 (C* E*) Organic materials and soil productivity, 1978 (C* E*) Organic recycling in Asia, 1978 (C* E**) Improved use of plant nutrients, 1978 (C* E*) Soil and plant testing and analysis, 1980 (E*) Soil and plant testing as a basis of fertilizer recommendations, 1980 (E** S*) Salt-affected soils and their management, 1988 (E* F*** S***) China: recycling of organic wastes in agriculture, 1978 (E* F* S*) China: azolla propagation and small-scale biogas technology, 1979 (E* F* S*) Soil survey investigations for irrigation, 1979 (C* E*) Organic recycling in Africa, 1980 (E*) Watershed development with special reference to soil and water conservation, 1979 (C* E* F* S*) Organic materials and soil productivity in the Near East, 1982 (E*) (with Arabic summary) Blue-green algae for rice production - a manual for its promotion, 1981 (E*) Le recyclage des résidus agricoles organiques en Afrique, 1982 (F*) Micronutrients and the nutrient status of soils: a global study, 1982 (E*) Application of nitrogen-fixing systems in soil management, 1982 (E* F* S*) Keeping the land alive: soil erosion - its causes and cures, 1983 (E* F* S*) El reciclaje de materias orgánicas en la agricultura de América Latina, 1983 (S*) Guidelines: land evaluation for rainfed agriculture, 1983 (E* F*** S*) Improved production systems as an alternative to shifting cultivation, 1984 (E* F*** S*) Tillage systems for soil and water conservation, 1984 (E* F*** S***) Guidelines: land evaluation for irrigated agriculture, 1985 (E* F*** S***) Soil management: compost production in tropical and subtropical environments, 1987 (E*) Soil and water conservation in semi-arid areas, 1987 (E*)
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