Irrigation Science

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 313–323 | Cite as

Effect of irrigation methods, management and salinity of irrigation water on tomato yield, soil moisture and salinity distribution

  • N. M. Malash
  • T. J. Flowers
  • R. Ragab
Original Paper


The increasing demand for irrigation water to secure food for growing populations with limited water supply suggests re-thinking the use of non-conventional water resources. The latter includes saline drainage water, brackish groundwater and treated waste water. The effects of using saline drainage water (electrical conductivity of 4.2–4.8 dS m−1) to irrigate field-grown tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill cv Floradade) using drip and furrow irrigation systems were evaluated, together with the distribution of soil moisture and salt. The saline water was either diluted to different salinity levels using fresh water (blended) or used cyclically with fresh water. The results of two seasons of study (2001 and 2002) showed that increasing salinity resulted in decreased leaf area index, plant dry weight, fruit total yield and individual fruit weight. In all cases, the growth parameters and yield as well as the water use efficiency were greater for drip irrigated tomato plants than furrow-irrigated plants. However, furrow irrigation produced higher individual fruit weight. The electrical conductivity of the soil solution (extracted 48 h after irrigation) showed greater fluctuations when cyclic water management was used compared to those plots irrigated with blended water. In both drip and furrow irrigation, measurements of soil moisture one day after irrigation, showed that soil moisture was higher at the top 20 cm layer and at the location of the irrigation water source; soil moisture was at a minimum in the root zone (20–40 cm layer), but showed a gradual increase at 40–60 and 60–90 cm and was stable at 90–120 cm depth. Soil water content decreased gradually as the distance from the irrigation water source increased. In addition, a few days after irrigation, the soil moisture content decreased, but the deficit was most pronounced in the surface layer. Soil salinity at the irrigation source was lower at a depth of 15 cm (surface layer) than that at 30 and 60 cm, and was minimal in deeper layers (i.e. 90 cm). Salinity increased as the distance from the irrigation source increased particularly in the surface layer. The results indicated that the salinity followed the water front. We concluded that the careful and efficient management of irrigation with saline water can leave the groundwater salinity levels unaffected and recommended the use of drip irrigation as the fruit yield per unit of water used was on average one-third higher than when using furrow irrigation.


Saline Water Leaf Area Index Drip Irrigation Total Soluble Solid Fruit Yield 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HorticultureMenofiya UniversityShibin El KomEgypt
  2. 2.Plant Physiology, School of Life ScienceUniversity of SussexBrighton, East SussexUK
  3. 3.Head of Water, Soil and LandscapeCenter for Ecology and HydrologyWallingfordUK

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