Soil salinity and sodicity impose severe constrains to agriculture, especially in arid and semi-arid regions, where good-quality water for irrigation is scarce. While detailed models have been proposed in the past to describe the dynamics of salt and sodium in the soil, they typically require cumbersome calculations and are not amenable to theoretical analysis. Here we present an analytical model for the dynamics of salinity and sodicity in the root zone. We determine the dependence of steady-state salinity and sodicity levels on irrigation water quality and derive the trajectories in the phase space. The only stationary solution the equations admit is a stable node. Through numerical integration and analysis of the eigenvalues of the derived two-dimensional system of equations, the slower time scale associated with sodification is quantified with respect to the faster time scale associated to salinization. The role of different cation exchange equations (Gapon and Vanselow conventions) are shown to be practically the same with regard to the phase-space dynamics and the time scales. The results can be applied in controlling for low levels of salinity and sodicity, and in planning remediation strategies that are timely and economical.
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