Home' Grower : July 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- July 2011
Leaching Volumes and
the Water Balance
IN this article, ANTHONY FOX and JEANETTE CHAPMAN
outline how leaching volumes are estimated and
incorporated into the water balance.
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SOIL salinity will
increasing depth down crop root zones in reasonably predictable ways if
irrigation depths and water salinity are constant throughout the season. For a given
source of water, the leaching requirement to maintain a desired crop yield is estimated
from the average water salinity and the critical crop soil salinity, as follows:
Smaller leaching requirements occur at low-water salinity and high-crop threshold
tolerance level of root zone salinity.
If the salinity of the applied irrigation water is higher than the crop threshold tolerance
level, root zone salinity will be limited by water quality and some crop damage is likely.
Leaching requirement of at least 25 per cent is needed to maintain root zone salinity
around that of the irrigation water salinity (shown by the green dotted line Figure 1).
This level of leaching is uneconomic.
Figure 1: Leaching fraction for different critical crop root zone salinity and water salinity.
Source: ICMS, Rural Solutions SA.
LR = leaching requirement (no units)
ECAW = average salinity of applied water (dS/m)
ECe critical = critical salinity tolerance of the crop (dS/m)
[(5 x ECe critical) - ECAW]
Good drainage is essential, especially when
a higher leaching volume is needed.
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