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Simulating root water uptake from a shallow saline groundwater resource

By Peter J. Shouse, James E. Ayars and Jirí Simunek

Abstract

Disposal of saline drainage water is a significant problem for irrigated agriculture. One proposal to deal with this problem is sequential biological concentration (SBC), which is the process of recycling drainage water on increasingly more salt tolerant crops until the volume of drainage water has been reduced sufficiently to enable its final disposal by evaporation in a small area. For maximum effectiveness this concept will require crop water reuse from shallow groundwater. To evaluate the concept of sequential biological concentration, a column lysimeter study was used to determine the potential crop water use from shallow groundwater by alfalfa as a function of ground water quality and depth to ground water. However, lysimeter studies are not practical for characterizing all the possible scenarios for crop water use related to ground water quality and depth. Models are suited to do this type of characterization if they can be validated. To this end, we used the HYDRUS-1D water flow and solute transport simulation model to simulate our experimental results. Considering the precision of the experimental boundary and initial conditions, numerical simulations matched the experimental results very well. The modeling results indicate that it is possible to reduce the dependence on experimental research by extrapolating experimental results obtained in this study to other specific sites where shallow saline groundwater is of concern.Ground water In situ use Alfalfa Drainage Irrigation management Crop water requirement Numerical model HYDRUS-1D

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