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Modelling the Impact on Root Water Uptake and Solute Return Flow of Different Drip Irrigation Regimes with Brackish Water

1
Laboratory of Modelling in Hydraulics and Environment, National Engineering School of TUNIS, University of Tunis El Manar (ENIT), Box 37, Le Belvédère Tunis 1002, Tunisia
2
National Institute for Research in Rural Engineering, Waters and Forests, Box 10, Ariana 2080, Tunisia
3
ISAFOM—Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Systems in the Mediterranean, CNR—National Research Council of Italy, Via Patacca, 85, 80056 Ercolano NA, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(3), 425; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030425
Received: 6 January 2019 / Revised: 17 February 2019 / Accepted: 22 February 2019 / Published: 27 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Hydrology in Agriculture)
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Abstract

Water scarcity and quality degradation represent real threats to economic, social, and environmental development of arid and semi-arid regions. Drip irrigation associated to Deficit Irrigation (DI) has been investigated as a water saving technique. Yet its environmental impacts on soil and groundwater need to be gone into in depth especially when using brackish irrigation water. Soil water content and salinity were monitored in a fully drip irrigated potato plot with brackish water (4.45 dSm−1) in semi-arid Tunisia. The HYDRUS-1D model was used to investigate the effects of different irrigation regimes (deficit irrigation (T1R, 70% ETc), full irrigation (T2R, 100% ETc), and farmer’s schedule (T3R, 237% ETc) on root water uptake, root zone salinity, and solute return flows to groundwater. The simulated values of soil water content (θ) and electrical conductivity of soil solution (ECsw) were in good agreement with the observation values, as indicated by mean RMSE values (≤0.008 m3·m−3, and ≤0.28 dSm−1 for soil water content and ECsw respectively). The results of the different simulation treatments showed that relative yield accounted for 54%, 70%, and 85.5% of the potential maximal value when both water and solute stress were considered for deficit, full. and farmer’s irrigation, respectively. Root zone salinity was the lowest and root water uptake was the same with and without solute stress for the treatment corresponding to the farmer’s irrigation schedule (273% ETc). Solute return flows reaching the groundwater were the highest for T3R after two subsequent rainfall seasons. Beyond the water efficiency of DI with brackish water, long term studies need to focus on its impact on soil and groundwater salinization risks under changing climate conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: deficit irrigation; brackish water, soil and groundwater salinity; HYDRUS-1D; root water uptake; irrigation return flow deficit irrigation; brackish water, soil and groundwater salinity; HYDRUS-1D; root water uptake; irrigation return flow
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Slama, F.; Zemni, N.; Bouksila, F.; De Mascellis, R.; Bouhlila, R. Modelling the Impact on Root Water Uptake and Solute Return Flow of Different Drip Irrigation Regimes with Brackish Water. Water 2019, 11, 425.

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