Impact of soil compaction and irrigation practices on salt dynamics in the presence of a saline shallow groundwater: An experimental and modelling study

Sina maghami Nick, Nadim k. Copty, Selen deviren Saygın, Hasan sabri Öztürk, Burak Demirel, S. mehdi Emadian, Günay Erpul, Majid Sedighi, Masoud Babaei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Soil salt accumulation is a widespread problem leading to diminished crop yield and threatening food security in many regions of the world. The soil salinization problem is particularly acute in areas that lack adequate soil water drainage and where a saline shallow water table (WT) is present. In this study, we present laboratory-scale column experiments, extending over a period of more than 400 days that focus on the processes contributing to soil salinization. We specifically examine the combined impact of soil compaction, surface water application model and water quality on salt dynamics in the presence of a saline shallow WT. The soil columns (60 cm height and 16 cm diameter) were packed with an agricultural soil with bulk densities of 1.15 and 1.34 g/cm−3 for uncompacted and compacted layers, respectively, and automatically monitored for water content, salinity and pressure. Two surface water compositions are considered: fresh (deionized, DI) and saline water (~3.4 mS/cm). To assess the sensitivity of compaction on salt dynamics, the experiments were numerically modelled with the HYDRUS-1D computer program. The results show that the saline WT led to rapid salinization of the soil column due to capillarity, with the salinity reaching levels much higher than that at the WT. However, compaction layer provided a barrier that limited the downwards moisture percolation and solute transport. Furthermore, the numerical simulations showed that the application of freshwater can temporarily reverse the accumulation of salts in agricultural soils. This irrigation strategy can help, in the short-term, alleviate soil salinization problem. The soil hydraulic properties, WT depth, water quality, evaporation demand and the availability of freshwater all play a role in the practicability of such short-term solutions. The presence of a saline shallow WT would, however, rapidly reverse these temporary measures, leading to the recurrence of topsoil salinization.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15135
Number of pages17
JournalHydrological Processes
Volume38
Issue number3
Early online date24 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • capillary action
  • experimental simulation
  • irrigation practices
  • numerical modelling
  • salinization
  • shallow groundwater
  • soil compaction

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