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Water 2017, 9(7), 536;

HYDRUS Simulation of Sustainable Brackish Water Irrigation in a Winter Wheat-Summer Maize Rotation System in the North China Plain

Key Laboratory of Agricultural Water Resources, Hebei Key Laboratory of Agricultural Water-saving, Center for Agricultural Resources Research, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shijiazhuang 050021, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 5 July 2017 / Accepted: 11 July 2017 / Published: 18 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water and Solute Transport in Vadose Zone)
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Freshwater resources in the North China Plain (NCP) are near depletion due to the unceasing overexploitation of deep groundwater, by far the most significant source of freshwater in the region. To deal with the deepening freshwater crisis, brackish water (rich but largely unused water in agriculture) is increasingly being used in irrigation in the region. However, inappropriate irrigation with brackish water could lead to soil salinization and cropland degradation. To evaluate such negative impacts, the HYDRUS-1D model was used to simulate soil salt transport and accumulation under 15 years of irrigation with brackish water. The irrigation scenarios included brackish water irrigation during the wintering and jointing stages of winter wheat and then freshwater irrigation just before the sowing of summer maize. Freshwater irrigation was done to leach out soil salts, which is particularly vital in dry years. For the littoral region of the plain, HYDRUS-ID was used to simulate the irrigated cropping system stated above for a total period of 15 years. The results showed that it was feasible to use brackish water twice in one year, provided freshwater irrigation was performed before sowing summer maize. Freshwater irrigation, in conjunction with precipitation, leached out soil salts from the 100 cm root-zone depth. The maximum salt accumulation was in the 160–220 cm soil layer, which ensured that root-zone soil was free of restrictive salinity for crop growth. Precipitation was a critical determinant of the rate and depth leaching of soil salt. Heavy rainfall (>100 mm) caused significant leaching of soluble salts in the 0–200 cm soil profile. Salt concentration under brackish water irrigation had no significant effect on the variations in the trend of soil salt transport in the soil profile. The variations of soil salinity were mainly affected by hydrological year type, for which the buried depth of soil salt was higher in wet years than in dry years. The study suggested that 15 years of irrigation with brackish water is a reliable and feasible mode of crop production in coastal regions with a thick soil column above the water table. The scheme proposed in this study allowed the use of brackish water in irrigation without undue salinization of the crop soil layer, an intuitive way of resolving the deepening water crisis in the NCP study area and beyond. View Full-Text
Keywords: brackish water irrigation; soil salt transport; HYDRUS-1D model; coastal region; North China Plain brackish water irrigation; soil salt transport; HYDRUS-1D model; coastal region; North China Plain

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He, K.; Yang, Y.; Yang, Y.; Chen, S.; Hu, Q.; Liu, X.; Gao, F. HYDRUS Simulation of Sustainable Brackish Water Irrigation in a Winter Wheat-Summer Maize Rotation System in the North China Plain. Water 2017, 9, 536.

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