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Soil, land care and environmental research
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A simple numerical model to estimate water availability in saline soils

Mohammad Hossein Mohammadi A C and Mahnaz Khataar B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Soil Science, University of Tehran, 31587-77871 Karaj, Iran.

B Department of Soil Science, University of Zanjan, 38791-45371, Zanjan, Iran.

C Corresponding author. Email: mhmohmad@ut.ac.ir

Soil Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/SR17081
Submitted: 15 March 2017  Accepted: 4 October 2017   Published online: 7 December 2017

Abstract

We developed a numerical model to predict soil salinity from knowledge of evapotranspiration rate, crop salt tolerance, irrigation water salinity, and soil hydraulic properties. Using the model, we introduced a new weighting function to express the limitation imposed by salinity on plant available water estimated by the integral water capacity concept. Lower and critical limits of soil water uptake by plants were also defined. We further analysed the sensitivity of model results to underlying parameters using characteristics given for corn, cowpea, and barley in the literature and two clay and sandy loam soils obtained from databases. Results showed that, between two irrigation events, soil salinity increased nonlinearly with decreasing soil water content especially when evapotranspiration and soil drainage rate were high. The salinity weighting function depended greatly on the plant sensitivity to salinity and irrigation water salinity. This research confirmed that both critical and lower limits (in terms of water content) of soil water uptake by plants increased with evapotranspiration rate and irrigation water salinity. Since the presented approach is based on a physical concept and well-known plant parameters, soil hydraulic characteristics, irrigation water salinity, and meteorological conditions, it may be useful in spatio-temporal modelling of soil water quality and quantity and prediction of crop yield.

Additional keywords: integral water capacity, plant water uptake, salinity stress, soil hydraulic properties.


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