The consequences of saline irrigation treatments on soil physicochemical characteristics
Summary, in English
When saline water is used to irrigate crops in arid environments, appropriate irrigation management should be applied to avoid negatively impacting soil characteristics. In this study, the effects of irrigating date palms with saline water (2.24 g l−1) on soil physicochemical characteristics such as the electrical conductivity (ECe), the pH of the saturated soil paste (pHe), the concentrations of soluble cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+), the sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), the saturated soil hydraulic conductivity (Ks), and the volumetric water content of the soil (θv) were evaluated in a Tunisian Saharan cropland, the Dergine Oasis, during a 4-year period (2012–2015). The effects of three different irrigation treatments of date palms on soil properties were investigated: low treatment (90% of the net irrigation requirement (NIR) of date palms was applied); medium treatment (100% of NIR was applied), and high treatment (110% of NIR was applied). The results showed that the application of saline water for irrigation inevitably has a negative impact on the physicochemical properties of the soil. Irrigation with saline water was observed to have severe negative impacts on the soil characteristics, especially ECe, Na+, Ks, and θv. However, among the three irrigation treatments applied, statistical analysis (Duncan’s multiple range test) indicated that the high treatment significantly (p < 0.05) minimized the degradation of soil characteristics by the saline water; this treatment decreased ECe, Na+, and SAR and increased the water content, θv, of the studied soil.