Drip Irrigation of Tomato and Cotton Under Shallow Saline Ground Water Conditions

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Artificial subsurface drainage is not an option for addressing the saline, shallow ground water conditions along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley because of the lack of drainage water disposal facilities. Thus, the salinity/drainage problem of the valley must be addressed through improved irrigation practices. One option is to use drip irrigation in the salt affected soil.

A study evaluated the response of processing tomato and cotton to drip irrigation under shallow, saline ground water at depths less than 1 m. A randomized block experiment with four irrigation treatments of different water applications was used for both crops. Measurements included crop yield and quality, soil salinity, soil water content, soil water potential, and canopy coverage. Results showed drip irrigation of processing tomato to be highly profitable under these conditions due to the yield obtained for the highest water application. Water applications for drip-irrigated tomato should be about equal to seasonal crop evapotranspiration because yield decreased as applied water decreased. No yield response of cotton to applied water occurred indicating that as applied water decreased, cotton uptake of the shallow ground water increased. While a water balance showed no field-wide leaching, salinity data clearly showed salt leaching around the drip lines.

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