Induced heterogeneity of soil water content and chemical properties by treated wastewater irrigation and its reclamation by freshwater irrigation

Matan Rahav, Naaran Brindt, Uri Yermiyahu, Rony Wallach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

The recognition of treated wastewater (TWW) as an alternative water resource is expanding in areas with a shortage of freshwater (FW) resources. Today, most orchards in Israel are irrigated with TWW. While the benefits of using TWW for irrigation are apparent, evidence of its negative effects on soil, trees, and yield is accumulating. This study, performed in a commercial TWW-irrigated citrus orchard in central Israel, examined the effects of (1) soil-wettability decrease due to prolonged TWW irrigation on the spatial and temporal distribution of water content and associated chemical properties in the root zone; (2) the conversion of irrigation in half of the TWW-irrigated research plot to FW (2012) for soil reclamation. Electrical resistivity tomography surveys in the substantially water repellent soils revealed that water flow is occurring along preferential flow paths in both plots, leaving behind a considerably nonuniform water-content distribution. This was despite the gradual relief in soil water repellency measured in the FW plots. Four soil-sampling campaigns (spring and fall, 2014–2016), performed in 0–20 and 20–40 cm layers of the research plot, revealed bimodal gravimetrically measured water-content distribution. The preferential flow led to uneven chemical-property distribution, with substantially high concentrations in the dry spots, and lower concentrations in the wet spots along the preferential flow paths. The average salt and nutrient concentrations, which were initially high in both plots, gradually dispersed with time, as concentrations in the FW plots decreased. Nevertheless, the efficiency of reclaiming TWW soil by FW irrigation appears low.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4756-4774
Number of pages19
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume53
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Keywords

  • effluent irrigation
  • preferential flow paths
  • water-repellent soils

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