Effects of wastewater irrigation on soil sodicity and nutrient leaching in calcareous soils

M. Jalali, H. Merikhpour, M.J. Kaledhonkar, S.E.A.T.M. van der Zee

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69 Citations (Scopus)


Soil column studies were conducted with two soils to assess the effects of irrigation with wastewater on soil and groundwater quality. Upon the application of wastewater, exchange occurred between solution sodium (Na+) and exchangeable cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, K+), whereby these cations were released into solution. The average exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) of the soils increased during leaching from 9 to 21 and 28.8 to 29.7 after applying 5.0 and 3.5 l (about 7 and 6 pore volumes) of wastewater to the soils columns, respectively. Adverse effect of high Na+ concentration in the wastewater on raising ESP was less pronounced in the soil having initial high ESP than in the soil with low initial ESP. Salinity of the soils was also increased with the application of wastewater and Mg2+ and K+ were leached from the soils. These losses would be more severe on soils having a low cation exchange capacity and if, uncorrected could lead eventually to their deficiencies for plant growth. When the soil columns were leached with distilled water the flow rate of one soil decreased to zero after 2.2 pore volume indicating damage to soil structure. Irrigation with wastewater, which is generally more sodic and saline than regional groundwater, increases the rate of soil sodification of shallow groundwater. A relatively simple chromatographic model was used to estimate final ESP profiles in the soils assuming the condition of local equilibrium. This approach had a limited success for one of the soil. Since the final leached concentrations are in good agreement with those of wastewater, we attribute these differences to non-uniform flow through the column. In terms of practical soil and water management, our study reveals that relatively simple means can be useful to predict the water quality in soils, their discharge to ground water, and the hazard of soil structure deterioration
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-153
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • cation-exchange
  • reclamation
  • groundwater
  • flow
  • iran

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