Soil-water and solute movement under precision irrigation: knowledge gaps for managing sustainable root zones

Raine, S. R. and Meyer, W. S. and Rassam, D. W. and Hutson, J. L. and Cook, F. J. (2007) Soil-water and solute movement under precision irrigation: knowledge gaps for managing sustainable root zones. Irrigation Science, 26 (1). pp. 91-100. ISSN 0342-7188

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Precision irrigation involves the accurate and precise application of water to meet the specific requirements of individual plants or management units and minimize adverse environmental impact. Under precision irrigation applications, water and associated solute movement will vary spatially within the root zone and excess water application will not necessarily result in deep drainage and leaching of salt below the root zone. This paper estimates that 10% of the irrigated land area (producing as much as 40% of the total annual revenue from irrigated land) could be adversely affected by root zone salinity resulting from the adoption of precision irrigation within Australia. The cost of increases in root zone salinisation due to inappropriate irrigation management in the Murray and Murrumbidgee irrigation areas was estimated at AUD 245 million (in 2000/01) or 13.5% of the revenue from these cropping systems. A review of soil–water and solute movement under precision irrigation systems highlights the gaps in current knowledge including the mismatch between the data required by complex, process-based soil–water or solute simulation models and the data that is easily available from soil survey and routine soil analyses. Other major knowledge gaps identified include: (a) effect of root distribution, surface evaporation and plant transpiration on soil wetted patterns, (b) accuracy and adequacy of using simple mean values of root zone soil salinity levels to estimate the effect of salt on the plant, (c) fate of solutes during a single irrigation and during multiple irrigation cycles, and (d) effect of soil heterogeneity on the distribution of water and solutes in relation to placement of water. Opportunities for research investment are identified across a broad range of areas including: (a) requirements for soil characterisation, (b) irrigation management effects, (c) agronomic responses to variable water and salt distributions in the root zone, (d) potential to scale or evaluate impacts at various scales, (e) requirements for simplified soil–water and solute modelling tools, and (f) the need to build skills and capacity in soil–water and solute modelling.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2008 02:28
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:59
Uncontrolled Keywords: salt; salinity; drainage; drip; trickle; irrigation management; solute modeling tools
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050305 Soil Physics
05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050302 Land Capability and Soil Degradation
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0799 Other Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 079901 Agricultural Hydrology (Drainage, Flooding, Irrigation, Quality, etc.)
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9614 Soils > 961402 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Soils
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1007/s00271-007-0075-y

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