Soil Research Soil Research Society
Soil, land care and environmental research

Desalinisation by zone leaching: laboratory investigations in a model sand-tank

M. S. Mirjat A B , D. A. Rose A C and M. A. Adey A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK.

B Permanent address: Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Sindh Agricultural University, Tandojam, Sindh 70060, Pakistan.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Soil Research 46(2) 91-100
Submitted: 3 August 2007  Accepted: 18 January 2008   Published: 18 March 2008


We report a laboratory study in a model sand-tank to investigate improvements using partial ponding over the common method of leaching salts from soils by flooding the entire area above equally spaced subsurface drains. The physical basis of the theory developed by E. G. Youngs and P. B. Leeds-Harrison was demonstrated in the model. We traced the streamline patterns for complete ponding and 3 situations of partial ponding of the soil surface to demonstrate the flow paths. We also leached saline water, initially uniformly distributed in the sand, with sweet water and recorded the breakthrough curves of the leaching water for the same situations of complete and partial ponding. The results demonstrate that partial ponding is more effective than complete ponding in that it requires less time to carry solute towards the drain and saves water of good quality needed to leach salts through drains. They also confirm the theoretical findings that more uniform leaching with less water can be achieved by constraining the infiltrating area with bunds, initially flooding only the region midway between the drains and then progressively increasing the flooded area until the entire surface above the drains is ponded.

Additional keywords: drain model, leaching, miscible displacement, streamlines, two-dimensional flow, water conservation.


During this work Prof. Mirjat was on study leave from Sindh Agricultural University, Tandojam, Pakistan as a Postdoctoral Fellow sponsored by the Association of Commonwealth Universities. We thank Mr D. Keir for constructing the sand tanks and Dr E.G. Youngs for his constructive comments on an earlier version of the text.


Agricultural Statistics of Pakistan (2004–2005) ‘Agricultural statistics of Pakistan.’ (Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Economic Wing), Shaheed-E-Millat Secretariat: Islamabad)

Al-Sibai M, Adey MA, Rose DA (1997) Movement of solute through a porous medium under intermittent leaching. European Journal of Soil Science 48, 711–725.
CrossRef |

Ali Y, Aslam Z, Sarwar G, Hussain F (2005) Genotypic and environmental interaction in advanced lines of wheat under salt-affected soils environment of Pakistan. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology 2, 223–228.

Avery BW , Bascomb CL (1974) ‘Soil survey laboratory methods’. Technical Monograph No. 6. (Soil Survey of England and Wales: Harpenden, Herts, UK)

Dieleman PJ (1973) ‘Reclamation of salt affected soils in Iraq.’ ILRI Publication No.11. (International Institute for Land Reclamation and Improvement: Wageningen, The Netherlands)

Ghassemi F , Jakeman AJ , Nix HA (1995) ‘Salinisation of land and water resources.’ (University of New South Wales Press Ltd: Sydney)

Hoffman GJ , Durnford DS (1999) Drainage design for salinity control. In ‘Agricultural drainage’. Agronomy Monograph No. 38. (Eds RW Skaggs, J van Schilfgaarde) pp. 579-614. (American Society of Agronomy: Madison, WI)

Kirkham D (1957) The ponded water case. In ‘Drainage of agricultural lands’. Agronomy Monograph No. 7. (Ed. JN Luthin) pp. 139-181. (American Society of Agronomy: Madison, WI)

Konukcu F, Gowing JW, Rose DA (2006) Dry drainage: a sustainable solution to waterlogging and salinity problems in irrigation areas? Agricultural Water Management 83, 1–12.
CrossRef |

Oster JD , Shainberg I , Abrol IP (1999) Reclamation of salt-affected soils. In ‘Agricultural drainage’. Agronomy Monograph No. 38. (Eds RW Skaggs, J van Schilfgaarde) pp. 659-691. (American Society of Agronomy: Madison, WI)

Oster JD, Willardson LS, Hoffman GJ (1972) Sprinkling and ponding techniques for reclaiming saline soils. Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers 10, 1115–1117.

Passioura JB, Rose DA (1971) Hydrodynamic dispersion in aggregated media. 2. Effects of velocity and aggregate size. Soil Science 111, 345–351.

Rao KVGK, Leeds-Harrison PB (1991) Desalinization with subsurface drainage. Agricultural Water Management 19, 303–311.
CrossRef |

Rose DA, Adey MA, Al-Sibai M (2000) Laboratory experiments and modelling studies of leaching of intermittently drained columns. Australian Journal of Soil Research 38, 891–903.
CrossRef |

Sarwar A (2000) A transient model approach to improve on-farm irrigation and drainage in semi-arid zones. PhD thesis, Wageningen University, The Netherlands.

Tarar RN (1995) Drainage system in Indus plains—an overview. In ‘Proceedings of National Workshop on Drainage System Performance in Indus Plains and Fugure Strategies’. Tandojam, Pakistan. Vol. II, pp. 1–45.

Youngs EG, Leeds-Harrison PB (2000) Improving efficiency of desalinization with subsurface drainage. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering 126, 375–380.
CrossRef |

Zaslavsky D (1979) Drainage for salt leaching. In ‘Proceedings of the International Drainage Workshop’. ILRI Publication No. 25. (Ed. J Wesseling) pp. 664-685. (International Institute for Land Reclamation and Improvement: Wageningen, The Netherlands)

Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (4)