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Management Practices Irrigating with Saline or Sodic Water

One or more of the following practices should be implemented if saline or sodic irrigation water
is used for irrigation.


  1. Provide adequate internal drainage. If a hardpan or other barriers restrict the movement
    of water through the soil profile, irrigation water with a SAR greater than 8 or an ECw
    greater than 1.50 – 2.00 mmhos/cm should not be used unless proper internal drainage
    can be provided.
  1. Meet the necessary leaching requirement depending on crop and salinity of irrigation
    water (ECw). Proper leaching reduces the accumulation of soluble salts and sodium in
    the soil. The leaching requirement can be calculated from water test results and
    tolerance levels of specific crops.
  1. Do not allow the soil profile to become less than 50% to 75% of its water holding
    capacity during the growing season. Salt toxicity to crops increases as soil moisture
  1. Monitor the ECe and Exchangeable Sodium Percentage (ESP) of soils annually when
    irrigation water high in soluble salts and sodium is applied to soils. When monitoring
    these soil parameters, collect soil samples at 12-inch intervals to a depth of 36 inches.
  1. When reclamation of sodic soil conditions is necessary, gypsum should be broadcast
    prior to planting and thoroughly incorporated into the soil. The ESP concentration
    should be than 8%. The gypsum requirement should be based on the soil test. If the
    soil contains free lime, elemental sulfur (Agri-sul) may be broadcast and incorporated at
    a rate of 20% of the gypsum application rate.
  1. Saline or sodic irrigation water can be blended with good quality irrigation water to
    reduce the quantity of salts and sodium applied to the soil. If blended water is applied,
    monitor salt and sodium accumulations annually by soil testing.
  1. Assuming normal concentrations of soluble salts and exchangeable sodium are present
    in soil, the maximum amount of soluble salts and sodium that should be applied to soil
    annually from the application of irrigation water is 4000 lbs salt/acre and 500 lbs
    Na/acre. When applying irrigation water high in soluble salts, do not allow the ECe to
    exceed the guideline for the crop to be grown. To maintain good water infiltration and
    percolation, the concentration of exchangeable sodium should not exceed 300 ppm and
    the ESP is should be less than 8%.