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Water Logging

A problem associated with excessive irrigation on poorly drained soils is water logging. This occurs (as is common for salinization) in poorly drained soils where water can't penetrate deeply. In agriculture, various crops need air (specifically, oxygen) to a greater or lesser depth in the soil. Water logging of the soil stops air getting in. For example, there may be an impermeable clay layer below the soil. It also occurs on areas that are poorly drained topographically. What happens is that the irrigation water eventually raises the water table in the ground -- the upper level of the groundwater -- from beneath.

The raised water table results in the soils becoming waterlogged. When soils are water logged, air spaces in the soil are filled with water, and plant roots essentially suffocate -- lack oxygen. Water logging also damages soil structure. Worldwide, about 10% of all irrigated land suffers from water logging. This is an area about the size of Idaho. As a result, productivity has fallen about 20% in this area of cropland. Growers don't generally realize that water logging is happening until it is too late -- tests for water in soil are apparently very expensive. In irrigated agricultural land, water logging is often accompanied by soil salinity as waterlogged soils prevent leaching of the salts imported by the irrigation water.

Water logging causes two problems: it reduces the yield of most crops and leads to an accumulation of salts brought in with the irrigation water. Normally, the salinization of agricultural land affects a considerable areas of irrigation project, to the tune of 20 to 30%. When the agriculture in such a fraction of the land is abandoned, a new salt and water balance is attained, a new equilibrium is reached, and the situation becomes stable

Both water logging and salinization could be reduced if the efficiency of irrigation systems could be improved, and more appropriate crops (less water hungry) could be grown in arid and semi-arid regions. Soil Leaching

Soil leaching
The unsaturated zone or vadose zone of the soil below the soil surface and the watertable is subject to four main hydrological inflow and outflow factors: Infiltration of rain and irrigation water (Irr) into the soil through the soil surface (Inf) : Inf = Rain + Irr Evaporation of soil water through plants and directly into the air through the soil surface (Evap) Percolation of water from the unsaturated zone soil into the groundwater through the watertable (Perc) Capillary rise of groundwater moving by capillary suction forces into the unsaturated zone (Cap)