Managing land application of coal seam water: a field study of land amendment irrigation using saline-sodic and alkaline water on a Red Vertisol

Bennett, J. McL. and Marchuk, A. and Raine, S. R. and Dalzell, S. A. and Macfarlane, D. C. (2016) Managing land application of coal seam water: a field study of land amendment irrigation using saline-sodic and alkaline water on a Red Vertisol. Journal of Environmental Management, 184 (2). pp. 178-185. ISSN 0301-4797


Coal seam (CS) gas operations coproduce water with gas from confined CS aquifers. This CS water represents a potential agricultural resource if the water is able to be chemically amended to comply with management guidelines. Stoichiometric quantities of sulphur and gypsum amendments can be used to neutralise the alkalinity and reduce the sodicity of CS water respectively. These amendments can either be mixed in-line at a water treatment plant or applied directly to land prior to the application of CS water (a practice termed land amendment irrigation - LAI). This study compared the efficacy of LAI with in-line chemical amendment of CS water and irrigation with non-saline, non-sodic and non-alkaline (good quality) water under field conditions in southern Queensland. Soil chemical properties, soluble Ca, Mg, K, Na, electrical conductivity (EC), pH, chloride and alkalinity, as well as saturated hydraulic conductivity were measured to determine the impact of the irrigation treatments on soil chemical and physical conditions. Irrigation of lucerne pasture using solid-set sprinklers applied a total of 6.7 ML/ha of each treatment irrigation water to the experimental plots over a 10-month period. Alkalinity was neutralised using LAI, with no increase in soil alkalinity observed. Soil sodicity did not exceed threshold electrolyte concentration values under either CS water irrigation treatment. Soil chemical and physical properties were comparable for both LAI and in-line chemical amendment of CS water. Soil saturated hydraulic conductivity was maintained under all irrigation treatments. Results showed that the constrained capacity of the irrigation system was unable to meet crop evapotranspiration demand. This resulted in accumulation of salt within the root-zone under the CS water treatments compared to the good quality water treatment. LAI successfully chemically amended Bowen Basin CS water facilitating its beneficial use for agricultural irrigation.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2016 05:51
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2016 02:15
Uncontrolled Keywords: coal seam gas; coal bed methane; gypsum; threshold electrolyte concentration; salinity; sodicity
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050304 Soil Chemistry (excl. Carbon Sequestration Science)
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management
05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050302 Land Capability and Soil Degradation
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070101 Agricultural Land Management
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960908 Mining Land and Water Management
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9614 Soils > 961402 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Soils
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.09.078

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