Effects of soil texture and groundwater level on leaching of salt from saline fields in Kesem irrigation scheme, Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, soil salinity has become a challenge for agricultural production in irrigated arid and semi-arid areas. This research investigates the effectiveness of leaching salt remediation under different soil textures and groundwater tables. Leaching was conducted in the bare parts of three abandoned saline fields. Soil texture of Field 1 (F1) is sandy loam while Field 2 (F2) and Field 3 (F3) are clay loam. The F1, F2, and F3 groundwater was located at 1.8, 1.5 and > 3 m, respectively. The leaching requirement water levels were 15, 20, 25, and 30% higher than the evaporation of the bare field needed for four consecutive weeks, respectively. The results of this study show that, after four days of leaching, the salinity of F1 with sandy loam texture was significantly (P < 0.05) and more strongly reduced than for the other fields exhibiting clay loam texture. For F1, salinity was reduced from 16.3 to 6.2 dS/m and from 12.4 to 5.5 dS/m at depths of 0–30 and 30–60 cm, respectively. In head parts of F1 and F3, the salinity level was reduced to 2.0 dS/m. However, in F2 with shallow groundwater and clay loam texture, the salinity levels were slightly higher after leaching, i.e. from 11.2 to 12.0 dS/m and from 8.1 to 11.6 dS/m at 0–30 and 30–60 cm depths, respectively. In our experiment, effective leaching was achieved only in the field with sandy soil and deeper groundwater table. We saw that the application of leaching with surface drainage at shallow groundwater levels may further exacerbate salinity problems. For such situations, the use of subsurface drainage could sustain the groundwater depth and prevent additional salinization. On clay-textured fields with shallow groundwater table, a prolonged leaching application is necessary to reduce the salt contents.
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