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Water 2018, 10(3), 298; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10030298

New Comparative Experiments of Different Soil Types for Farmland Water Conservation in Arid Regions

1
Institute of Desertification Studies, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
2
Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77840, USA
3
Inner Mongolia Academy of Forestry, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia 010010, China
4
Desert Forestry Experiment Center, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Dengkou, Inner Mongolia 015204, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 November 2017 / Revised: 7 March 2018 / Accepted: 7 March 2018 / Published: 9 March 2018
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Abstract

Irrigated farmland is the main food source of desert areas, and moisture is the main limiting factor of desert farmland crop productivity. Study on the influence of irrigation on desert farmland soil moisture can guide the agricultural water resource utilization and agricultural production in those regions. At present, the efficiency of irrigation water usage in Northwest China is as low as approximately 40% of the irrigated water. To understand the response of farmland soil moisture in different soil types on irrigation in the Ulan Buh Desert of Inner Mongolia of China, this experimental study takes advantage of different infiltration characteristics and hydraulic conductivities of sand, clay, and loam to determine an optimized soil combination scheme with the purpose of establishing a hydraulic barrier that reduces infiltration. This study includes three comparative experiments with each consisting of a 100 cm thick of filled sand, or clay, or loam soil underneath a 50 cm plough soil, with a total thickness of 150 cm soil profile. A new type of lysimeter is installed below the above-mentioned 150 cm soil profile to continuously measure deep soil recharge (DSR), and the ECH2O-5 soil moisture sensors are installed at different depths over the 150 cm soil profile to simultaneously monitor the soil moisture above the lysimeter. The study analyzes the characteristics of soil moisture dynamics, the irrigation-related recharge on soil moisture, and the DSR characteristics before and after irrigation, during the early sowing period from 2 April to 2 May 2017. Research results show that: (1) Irrigation significantly influences the soil moisture of 0–150 cm depths. The soil moisture increase after the irrigation follows the order from high to low when it is in the order of loam, sand, and clay. (2) Irrigation-induced soil moisture recharge occurs on all three soil combinations at 0–150 cm layers, and the order of soil moisture recharge from high to low is: clay (54.3 mm, 43.39% of the total irrigation), loam (39.83 mm, 31.83% of the total irrigation), and sand (33.47 mm, 26.75% of the total irrigation). (3) After the irrigation event, DSR below 150 cm occurs for all three soil combinations. This study reveals the characteristics of irrigation-induced soil moisture recharge and DSR, and it shows that farmland consisting of an upper 50 cm plough soil and a lower 100 cm filled clay soil can save more water resource at the study site, which is useful in agricultural control measure and water resource management in arid regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: Ulan Buh Desert; DSR; infiltration; desert farmland; irrigation; sustainable development; water resource utilization efficiency Ulan Buh Desert; DSR; infiltration; desert farmland; irrigation; sustainable development; water resource utilization efficiency
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Cheng, Y.; Li, Y.; Zhan, H.; Liang, H.; Yang, W.; Zhao, Y.; Li, T. New Comparative Experiments of Different Soil Types for Farmland Water Conservation in Arid Regions. Water 2018, 10, 298.

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