Soil oxygen and water dynamics underlying hypoxic conditions in the root-zone of avocado irrigated with treated wastewater in clay soil

David Yalin, Amnon Schwartz, Jorge Tarchitzky, Moshe Shenker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Alternative water sources for agriculture are in high demand in a world with diminishing fresh water (FW) availability. Treated wastewater (TWW) offers a reliable alternative, but increasing evidence is pointing to damage to TWW irrigated orchards planted in clay soils related to soil hypoxia. The mechanisms responsible for this hypoxia have not been extensively studied to date. The aim of this study was to elucidate meaningful insights into the mechanisms responsible for the hypoxia in TWW irrigated orchards planted in clay soils using a novel approach whereby parameters describing the soil oxygen and water temporal dynamics are analyzed. To that end, soil oxygen and soil water tension (SWT) measurements from a two year field experiment comparing TWW to FW irrigation in an avocado orchard planted in a clay soil (60 % clay) were used. The deterioration in oxygen levels occurred as the irrigation season progressed, and the oxygen availability decreased with depth (10–35 cm depth). During August-September, when the lowest oxygen concentrations were measured, the water content at which oxygen supply matched oxygen consumption at 35-cm depth did not differ between treatments (∼50 mbar), but the TWW irrigated soil experienced ∼47 % more time at wetter conditions. Lower oxygen decline rates were observed in the TWW irrigated plots which countered the previous concept that TWW leads to increased soil oxygen consumption. The findings point towards the rate of soil drying as the prime cause of differences – TWW irrigated plots dried in a rate which is nearly 4-times smaller than that in FW irrigated plots during the dark and light hours, reflecting slower drainage and water uptake respectively. It is suggested that soil hypoxia induced by the low soil drainage in TWW irrigated clay soils impairs tree water uptake, which further hinders the soil oxygen levels. Based on these results management tools are suggested to allow sustainable irrigation with TWW in the future. Furthermore, the work demonstrates how analysis of parameters describing the oxygen hourly changes can be utilized to gain mechanistic insights unto processes affecting the oxygen regime in the soil.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number105039
JournalSoil and Tillage Research
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Avocado
  • Dynamics
  • Effluent
  • Hypoxia
  • In-situ
  • Irrigation
  • Mitigation method
  • Model
  • Oxygen
  • Soil
  • Treated wastewater


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