Irrigation Science

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 25–33 | Cite as

Conjunctive use of saline and non-saline irrigation waters in semi-arid regions

  • D. P. Sharma
  • K. V. G. K. Rao
  • K. N. Singh
  • P. S. Kumbhare
  • R. J. Oosterbaan
Original Paper


In arid and semi-arid regions, effluent from sub-surface drainage systems is often saline and during the dry season its disposal poses an environmental problem. A field experiment was conducted from 1989 to 1992 using saline drainage water (EC=10.5–15.0 dS/m) together with fresh canal water (EC=0.4 dS/m) for irrigation during the dry winter season. The aim was to find if crop production would still be feasible and soil salinity would not be increased unacceptably by this practice. The experimental crops were a winter crop, wheat, and pearl-millet and sorghum, the rainy season crops, grown on a sandy loam soil. All crops were given a pre-plant irrigation with fresh canal water. Subsequently, the wheat crop was irrigated four times with different sequences of saline drainage water and canal water. The rainy season crops received no further irrigation as they were rainfed. Taking the wheat yield obtained with fresh canal water as the potential value (100%), the mean relative yield of wheat irrigated with only saline drainage water was 74%. Substitution of canal water at first post-plant irrigation and applying thereafter only saline drainage water, increased the yield to 84%. Cyclic irrigations with canal and drainage water in different treatments resulted in yields of 88% to 94% of the potential. Pearl-millet and sorghum yields decreased significantly where 3 or 4 post-plant irrigations were applied with saline drainage water to previous wheat crop, but cyclic irrigations did not cause yield reduction. The high salinity and sodicity of the drainage water increased the soil salinity and sodicity in the soil profile during the winter season, but these hazards were eliminated by the sub-surface drainage system during the ensuing monsoon periods. The results obtained provide a promising option for the use of poor quality drainage water in conjunction with fresh canal water without undue yield reduction and soil degradation. This will save the scarce canal water, reduce the drainage water disposal needs and associated environmental problems.


Soil Salinity Drainage Water Wheat Crop Sandy Loam Soil Canal Water 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Boumans JH, van Hoorn JW, Kruseman GP, Tanwar BS (1988) Watertable control, reuse and disposal of drainage water in Haryana. Agric Water Manage 14:537–545Google Scholar
  2. Bradford S, Letey J (1992) Cyclic and blending strategies for using nonsaline and saline waters for irrigation. Irrig Sci 13: 123–128Google Scholar
  3. Dhir RP (1976) Salinity and alkali hazard conditions in soil under cyclic management system. In: Dregne HE (ed) Proc Intn Salinity Conf Managing Saline Water for Irrigation. Texas, Tech Univ, Lubbock, TX, Aug 1976, pp 608–609Google Scholar
  4. Grattan SR, Rhoades JD (1990) Irrigation with saline ground water and drainage water. In: Tanji KK (ed) Agricultural salinity assessment and management, Chap 20. American Society of Civil Engineers, New York, NY, pp 432–449Google Scholar
  5. Grattan SR, Shennan C, May DW, Mitchell JP, Burau RG (1987) Use of drainage water for irrigation of melons and tomatoes. Calif Agr 41:27–28Google Scholar
  6. Hoffman GJ (1980) Guidelines for the reclamation of salt-affected soils. In: O'Connor GA (ed) 2nd Inter-American Conf. on Salinity and Water Management Technology, Juarez, Mexico. 11–12 Dec, 1980; pp 49–64Google Scholar
  7. Khosla BK, Gupta RK, Abrol IP (1979) Salt leaching and the effect of gypsum application in a saline sodic soil. Agric Water Manage 2:193–202Google Scholar
  8. Leffelaar PA, Sharma RP (1977) Leaching of high saline sodic soil. J Hydrology 32: 203–218Google Scholar
  9. Maas EV (1986) Salt tolerance of plant. Appl Agric Res 1:12–26Google Scholar
  10. Maas EV, Hoffman GJ (1977) Crop salt tolerance — current assessment. J Irrig Drain Div ASCE 103 No IR 2: 115–134Google Scholar
  11. Maas EV, Poss JA (1989) Salt sensitivity of wheat at various growth stages. Irrig Sci 10:29–40Google Scholar
  12. Manchanda HR, Chawla KL (1981) Salt profile variations and wheat growth under irrigation with highly saline waters on coarse loamy soils in south-western Haryana. J Indian Soc Soil Sci 29:504–511Google Scholar
  13. Minhas PS, Gupta RK (1992) Quality of irrigation water — assessment and management. Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Publication Section, New Delhi, 123 ppGoogle Scholar
  14. Minhas PS, Gupta RK (1993) Conjunctive use of saline and non-saline waters. I. Response of wheat to initial salinity profiles and salinization patterns. Agric Water Manage 23: 125–137Google Scholar
  15. Naresh RK, Minhas PS, Goyal AK, Chauhan CPS, Gupta RK (1993) Conjunctive use of saline and non-saline waters. II. Field comparisons of cyclic uses and mixing for wheat. Agric Water Manage 23: 139–148Google Scholar
  16. Oosterbaan RJ, Sharma DP, Singh KN, Rao KVGK (1990) Crop production and soil salinity: evaluation of field data from India by segmented linear regression. Proc Symposium on Land Drainage for Salinity Control in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions, Cairo, Egypt 3:373–382Google Scholar
  17. Oster JD, Schroer FW (1979) Infiltration as influenced by irrigation water quality. Soil Sci Soc Am J 43:444–447Google Scholar
  18. Piper CS (1966) Soil and plant analysis. Hans Publishers, BombayGoogle Scholar
  19. Prihar SS, Khera KS, Sandhu KS, Sandhu BS (1976) Comparison of irrigation schedules based on pan-evaporation and growth stages in winter wheat. Agron J 68:650–653Google Scholar
  20. Rains DW, Goyal S, Weyranch R, Lauchli A (1987) Saline drainage water reuse in a cotton rotation system. Calif Agr 41:24–26Google Scholar
  21. Rao KVGK, Kumbhare PS, Kamra SK (1988) Studies on performance of subsurface drainage system — a case study of Sampla. Annual Rep Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal, India, pp 64–65Google Scholar
  22. Reeve RC (1957) The relation to salinity to irrigation and drainage requirements. 3rd Congr on Irrigation and Drainage 5:10175–10187Google Scholar
  23. Rhoades JD (1977) Potential for using saline agriculture drainage waters for irrigation. Proc Water Management for Irrigation and Drainage, ASCE Reno, Nevada, pp 85–116Google Scholar
  24. Rhoades JD (1984) Use of saline water for irrigation. Calif Agr 38: 42–43Google Scholar
  25. Rhoades JD (1987) Use of saline water for irrigation. Water Quality Bull 12:14–20Google Scholar
  26. Rhoades JD, Bingham FT, Letey J, Dedrick AR, Bean M, Hoffman GJ, Alves WJ, Swain RV, Pacheco PG, Lemert RD (1988a) Reuse of drainage water for irrigation: results of imperial valley study. 1. Hypothesis, experimental procedures and cropping results. Hilgardia 56:1–16Google Scholar
  27. Rhoades JD, Bingham FT, Letey J, Pinter PJ Jr, Lemert RD, Alves WJ, Hoffman GJ, Replogle JA, Swain RV, Pacheco PG (1988b) Reuse of drainage water for irrigation. Results of imperial valley. 2. Soil salinity and water balance. Hilgardia 56:17–44Google Scholar
  28. Rhoades JD, Bingham FT, Letey J, Hoffman GJ, Dedrick AR, Pinter PJ, Replogle JA (1989) Use of saline drainage water for irrigation. Imperial valley study. Agric Water Manage 16:25–26Google Scholar
  29. Sharma DP, Singh KN, Rao KVGK (1989) Reuse of saline drainage water for irrigation of wheat. Indian Farming 39: 32–33Google Scholar
  30. Sharma DP, Singh KN, Rao KVGK, Kumbhare PS (1990 a) Response of wheat to the reuse of saline drainage water in a sandy loam soil. Indian J Agric Sci 60:448–452Google Scholar
  31. Sharma DP, Singh KN, Rao KVGK (1990b) Response of wheat, Indian mustard and barley to soil salinity in field. Indian J Agric Sci 60:588–591Google Scholar
  32. Sharma DP, Singh KN, Rao KVGK, Kumbhare PS (1991) Irrigation of wheat with saline drainage water on a sandy loam soil. Agric Water Manage 19:223–233Google Scholar
  33. Sharma DP, Singh KN, Rao KVGK, Kumbhare PS (1992) Recycling drainage water for irrigation. Annual Rep Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal, India, pp 46–50Google Scholar
  34. Sharma DP, Rao KVGK, Singh KN, Kumbhare PS (1993) Management of subsurface saline drainage water. Indian Farming 43: 15–19Google Scholar
  35. Singh RB, Minhas PS, Chauhan CPS, Gupta RK (1992) Effect of high salinity and SAR waters on salinization, sodication and yield of pearl-millet and wheat. Agric Water Manage21:93–105Google Scholar
  36. US Salinity Laboratory Staff (1954) Diagnosis and improvement of saline alkali soils. Handbook No. 60, USDAGoogle Scholar
  37. van Genuchten MT (1983) Analysing crop salt tolerance data: model description and user's manual. USDA ARS USSL, Riverside Res Rep 120Google Scholar
  38. Westcot DW (1988) Reuse and disposal of higher salinity subsurface drainage water: a review. Agric Water Manage 14:483–511Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. P. Sharma
    • 1
  • K. V. G. K. Rao
    • 1
  • K. N. Singh
    • 1
  • P. S. Kumbhare
    • 1
  • R. J. Oosterbaan
    • 2
  1. 1.Central Soil Salinity Research InstituteKarnal-132001 HaryanaIndia
  2. 2.International Institute for Land Reclamation and ImprovementWageningenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations