Strategies for productive use of brackish water for sustainable food grain productiuon [sic] in dry regions

M.H. Zia, A. Ghafoor, T.M. Boers

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperAcademic


Due to unavoidable, prolonged irrigation with marginal quality water, secondary salinization of irrigated soils in Pakistan has necessitated to a need for better understanding of the water management alternatives. Although H2SO4 and gypsum have far been recognized for their benefits in treating brackish water but during field trials, their relative performance still remains controversial for counteracting the Na-hazards in soil/water system. As alternative sulfur burners are also being marketed but up till now there is not even a single field study published in some journal about their efficiency and economical viability for the treatment of brackish water. Therefore a field study was carried out to compare the effectiveness of sulfurous acid generator (SAG) and other water/soil applied amendments on a normal, calcareous, well drained, sandy loam soil. Rice 2001, wheat 2001-02, and rice 2002 were planted in rotation during the experimentation period with a total of 54 treated and 8 untreated irrigations (each of 7.5 cm). Tube well water used had EC = 3.24 dS m-1, SAR=17.23 and RSC = 5.44 mmolc L-1. The treatments were: T0) Brackish tube well water without any amendment; T1) All irrigation with water passed through SAG; T2) Alternate irrigation-one of SAG treated and one of tube well water, T3) One irrigation with SAG treated water and two with untreated tube well water; T4) FYM @ 15 t ha-1yr-1; T5) Soil applied gypsum to each crop equivalent to affect a decrease in WRSC of tube well water treated with SAG, and T6) H2SO4- fertigation at each irrigation equivalent to affect a decrease in RSC of tube well water with SAG. Water analysis after treatment with SAG (an average of 20 irrigations) revealed that SAG treatment affected only one parameter i.e. water RSC from 5.44 to 3.55, and had no beneficial effect on SARiw and ECiw. After three crops, a minor decrease (up to 2.5%) and increase (up to 5.3%) in soil pHs over initial values was noted at 0-15 & 15-30 cm depth. After three crops the soil ECe and SAR were maintained below the threshold levels and the treatments had non-significant differences. On the basis of three crops, net benefit was maximum, from T4 followed by T5, T3, T0, T2, T6 and T1. The use of sulfur burner/ sulfuric acid was found to be 5 times costlier than gypsum in our study. It is concluded that soil application of gypsum and/or farmyard manure to counter the sodic hazards of irrigation water will be useful as well as economical for rice-wheat rotation on a normal, calcareous well drained soil. However, for fine textured soils with low infiltration rates, to expect similar situation might not be correct for which additional studies are imperative.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • irrigation
  • saline soils
  • soil chemistry
  • salinity
  • reclamation
  • crop damage
  • pakistan


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