Cyclic use of saline and non-saline water to increase water use efficiency and soil sustainability on drip irrigated maize in a semi-arid region

Mohammad Hassanli, Hamed Ebrahimian


Use of saline water for irrigation is a strategy to mitigate water shortage. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of the cyclic and constant use of saline and non-saline water on drip irrigated maize yield and irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE). Nine field treatments were laid out based on alternative irrigation management of non-saline and saline water combinations. The treatments were: two salinity levels of 3.5 and 5.7 dS/m and freshwater (0.4 dS/m) application in every one, three and five saline water application (1:1, 3:1 and 5:1, respectively). Results showed that the 1:1 combination management was the best in terms of crop yield and IWUE. In this treatment, salt concentration at the end of growing season was not significantly changed compared to its initial condition. If off-season precipitation or leaching was available, the 3:1 and 5:1 treatments were appropriated. Highest and lowest values of IWUE were 15.3 and 8.7 kg/m3 for the 1:1 management using water salinity of 3.5 dS/m and the treatment of constant irrigation with water salinity of 5.7 dS/m, respectively. Under low off-season precipitations, artificial leaching is essential for land sustainability in most treatments.


crop yield; soil salinity; leaching; drip irrigation; silage maize

Full Text:



Allen RG, Pereira LS, Raes D, Smith M, 1998. Crop evapotranspiration: guidelines for computing crop water requirements. Irrig Drain Paper 56. FAO, Rome, Italy.

Amer KH, 2010. Corn crop response under managing different irrigation and salinity levels. Agr Water Manage 97: 1553-1563.

Arslan A, Majid GA, Abdallah K, Rameshwaran P, Ragab R, Singh M, Qadir M, 2015. Evaluating the productivity potential of chickpea, lentil and faba bean under saline water irrigation systems. Irrig Drain 65 (1): 19-28.

Aslam M, Prathapar SA, 2006. Strategies to mitigate secondary salinization in the Indus Basin of Pakistan: A selective review. Research Report 97, IWMI, Colombo Sri Lanka.

Ayers RS, Westcot DW, 1985. Water quality for agriculture. Irrig Drain Paper 29. FAO, Rome, Italy.

Bassil ES, Kaffka SR, 2002. Response of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) to saline soils and irrigation: I. Consumptive water use. Agr Water Manage 54: 67-80.

Ben-Asher J, Tsuyuki I, Bravdo BM, Sagih M, 2006. Irrigation of grapevines with saline water: I. Leaf area index, stomatal conductance, transpiration and photosynthesis. Agr Water Manage 83 (1-2): 13-21.

Bos MG, 1979. Standards for irrigation efficiencies of ICID II. ASCE 105: 37-43.

Chen M, Kang Y, Wan S, Liu S, 2009. Drip irrigation with saline water for oleic sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Agr Water Manage 96: 1766-1772.

Crescimanno G, Provenzano G, Booltink HWG, 2002. The effect of alternating different water qualities on accumulation and leaching of solutes in a Mediterranean cracking soil. Hydrol Process 16: 717-730.

Datta KK, Jong C, 2002. Adverse effect of water logging and soil salinity on crop and land productivity in northwest region of Haryana, India. Agr Water Manage 57: 223-238.

Dudley LM, Ben-Gal A, Shani U, 2008. Influence of plant, soil and water properties on the leaching fraction. Vadose Zone J 7: 420-425.

Duncan DB, 1955. Multiple range and multiple F tests. Biometrics 11: 1-42.

Emdad MR, Fardad H, 2000. Effect of salt and water stress on corn yield production. Iran J Agric Sci 31 (3): 641-654 [in Persian].

FAO, 2013. Statistical Yearbook 2013, World Food and Agriculture. FAO, Rome, Italy.

Fasakhodi AA, Nouri SH, Amini M, 2010. Water resources sustainability and optimal cropping pattern in farming systems; a multi-objective fractional goal programming approach. Water Resour Manag 24 (15): 4639-4657.

Hamdy A, Sardo V, Farrag-Ghanem KA, 2005. Saline water in supplemental irrigation of wheat and barley under rainfed agriculture. Agr Water Manage 78: 122-127.

Hamilton AJ, Stagnitti F, Xiong X, Kreidl XL, Benke KK, Maher P. 2007. Wastewater irrigation: the state of play. Vadose Zone Journal 6: 823-840.

Huang CH, Zong L, Buonanno M, Xue X, Wang T, Tedeschi A, 2012. Impact of saline water irrigation on yield and quality of melon (Cucumis melo cv. Huanghemi) in northwest China. Eur J Agron 43: 68-76.

Kang Y, Chen M, Wan S, 2010. Effects of drip irrigation with saline water on waxy maize (Zea mays L. var. ceratina Kulesh) in North China Plain. Agr Water Manage 97: 1303-1309.

Kaur R, Paul M, Malik R, 2007. Impact assessment and recommendation of alternative conjunctive water use strategies for salt affected agricultural lands through a field scale decision support system-a case study. Environ Monit Assess 129: 257-270.

Kulkarni S, 2011. Innovative technologies for water saving in irrigated agriculture. Int J Water Resour Arid Environ 1(3): 226-231.

Li C, Lei J, Zhao Y, Xu X, Li S, 2015. Effect of saline water irrigation on soil development and plant growth in the Taklimakan Desert Highway shelterbelt. Soil Till Res 146: 99-107.

Liaghat AM, Esmaili SH, 2003. The effect of fresh and saline water conjunction on corn yield and salt concentration in the root zone. J Agric Sci Nat Resour 10(2): 159-170 [In Persian].

Malash N, Flowers TJ, Ragab R, 2005. Effect of irrigation systems and water management practices using saline and non-saline water on tomato production. Agr Water Manage 78: 25-38.

Mguidiche A, Provenzano G, Douh B, Khila S, Rallo G, Boujelben A, 2015. Assessing Hydrus-2D to simulate soil water content (SWC) and salt accumulation under an SDI system: Application to a potato crop in a semi-arid area of central Tunisia. Irrig Drain 64: 263-274.

Monteleone M, Libutti A, 2012. Salt leaching due to rain in Mediterranean climate: is it enough? Ital J Agron 7 (6): 37-43.

Naresh RK, Minhas PS, Goyal AK, Chauhan CPS, Guptal RK, 1993. Conjunctive use of saline and non-saline waters. II. Field comparisons of cyclic uses and mixing for wheat. Agr Water Manage 23 (2): 139-148.

Oron G, De-Malach Y, Gillerman L, David I, Rao VP, 1999. Improved saline-water use under subsurface drip irrigation. Agr Water Manage 39: 19-33.

Provenzano G, Tarquis AM, Rodriguez-Sinobas L, 2013. Soil and irrigation sustainability practices. Agr Water Manage 120: 1-4.

Rasouli F, Pouya AK, Simunek J, 2013. Modeling the effects of saline water use in wheat-cultivated lands using the UNSATCHEM model. Irrig Sci 31: 1009-1024.

Rhoades JD, 1987. Use of saline water for irrigation. Water Qual Bull 12: 14-20.

Rhoades JD, Kandiah A, Mashali AM, 1992. The use of saline waters for crop production. Irrig Drain Paper 48. FAO, Rome.

Sharma DP, Rao KVGK, 1998. Strategy for long term use of saline drainage water for irrigation in semi-arid regions. Soil Til Res 48: 287-295.

Singh A, 2012. Optimal allocation of resources for the maximization of net agricultural return. J Irrig Drain Eng 138 (9): 830-836.

Singh A, 2014. Conjunctive use of water resources for sustainable irrigated agriculture. J Hydrol 519: 1688-1697.

Smedema LK, Rycroft DW, 1983. Land drainage: Planning and design of agricultural drainage systems. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Smith M, 1992, CROPWAT: A computer program for irrigation planning and management. Irrig Drain Paper 46. FAO, Rome.

Talebnejad R, Sepaskhah AR, 2015. Effect of different saline groundwater depths and irrigation water salinities on yield and water use of quinoa in lysimeter. Agr Water Manage 148: 177-188.

Tscheschke P, Alfaro JF, Keller J, Hanks RJ, 1974. Trickle irrigation soil water potential as influenced by management of highly saline water. Soil Sci 117 (4): 226-231.

Tyagi NK, 2003. Managing saline and alkali water for higher productivity. In: Water productivity in agriculture: limits and opportunities for improvement; Kijne et al. (eds). CABI, Wallingford, UK.

Wan S, Kang Y, Wang D, Liu S, Feng L, 2007. Effect of drip irrigation with saline water on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) yield and water use in semi-humid area: Agr Water Manage 90: 63-74.

Wan S, Kang Y, Wang D, Liu S, 2010. Effect of saline water on cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) yield and water use under drip irrigation in North China. Agr Water Manage 98: 105-113.

Wichelns D, Cone D, Stuhr G, 2002. Evaluating the impact of irrigation and drainage policies on agricultural sustainability. Irrig Drain Sys 16: 1-14.

Yadav RK, Kumar A, Lal D, Batra L, 2004. Yield responses of winter (Rabi) forage crops to irrigation with saline drainage water. Exp Agric 40: 65-75.

Yazar A, Hamdy A, Gencel B, Metin SS, 2003. Sustainable use of highly saline water for irrigation of crops under arid and semi-arid conditions: new strategies. Corn yield response to saline irrigation water applied with a trickle system under Mediterranean climatic conditions. In: Regional Action Programme (RAP): Water resources management and water saving in irrigated agriculture (WASIA PROJECT); Hamdy A (ed.). CIHEAM, Bari.

Zarei MA, Tabatabai SH, Shayannejad H, Beigi-Harchegani H, 2007. Salinity distribution in soil profiles under three irrigation regime in basin irrigation in east of Isfahan. J Res Agric Sci 3 (2): 196-206 [In Persian].

DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2016144-9238