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In-situ Use of Ground Water by Alfalfa

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2007 ASAE Annual Meeting  072186.(doi:10.13031/2013.22941)
Authors:   James E Ayars, Peter Shouse
Keywords:   Ground water, in-situ use, alfalfa, drainage, irrigation management, crop water requirement

Disposal of saline drainage water is a significant problem for irrigated agriculture. One proposal is to recycle drainage water on salt tolerant crops until the volume has been reduced sufficiently to enable final disposal by evaporation. Part of this concept will require crop water reuse from shallow groundwater; and data is needed to quantify the potential use of this groundwater by alternative crops. A column lysimeter study was initiated to determine the potential crop water use from shallow groundwater by alfalfa as a function of ground water quality and depth to ground water. The results demonstrated that up to 50% of the crop water use could be met from shallow groundwater with an electrical conductivity less than 4 dS/m, and that the potential crop water use from deeper ground water increased over the years. The columns with high salinity in the shallow groundwater experienced increased salinity in the soil profile with time, which resulted in reduced crop water use from shallow groundwater.

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