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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Handbook No. 60
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Description of the Web Version
The original Handbook 60 was first published in 1954, and reissued in 1969. The paper version is out of print and no longer available. This USDA Publication has been scanned and converted to Adobe© PDF (Portable Document Format) files, which are available in 13 viewable and/or downloadable files, or the complete handbook in its entirety.
The numbered files correspond to chapters; other files included are:
  • Original Cover, Preface, and Introduction
  • Table of Contents
  • Literature Citations
  • Glossary
  • Appendix

Special Notice

The U.S. Salinity Laboratory agreed to cooperate in the production of a book published by the Irrigation & Drainage Division of the American Civil Engineering Society that will serve as a replacement of Handbook No. 60 "Diagnosis and Improvement of Saline and Alkali Soils" (Pub. 180).

The title is: "Agricultural Salinity Assessment and Management", In: K. K. Tanji (ed.); ASCE Manuals & Reported on Engineering Practice No. 71, 1990.

ISBN: 0-87262-762-4
Stock Number: 762
Pages: 631,
American Society of Civil Engineers

This book can be purchased online, or by calling the ASCE at 1-800-548-2723

"Agricultural Salinity Assessment and Management" (Manual No. 71) integrates contemporary concepts and management practices for agricultural water and salinity problems. It consists of 28 chapters, written by 49 contributing authors, and covers not only the technical and scientific aspects of the topic but also the environmental, economic, and legal aspects. Some of the subjects discussed are:
  1. The effects of salts on soil and plants
  2. The methods of sampling, monitoring, and measuring salinity
  3. The use of saline drainage water in irrigation
  4. The methods of managing salinity
  5. The use of models in salinity assessment
Considering the topics covered, engineers, scientists, practitioners, and educators will find this manual to be a valuable resource on the mitigation of salinity problems in irrigated agriculture.

Downloadable Contents

Diagnosis and Improvement of

Saline and Alkali Soils

Handbook No. 60 
Cover Original Cover, Introduction, and Preface 98 KB
T O C Table of Contents 128 KB
Chapter 1 Origin and Nature 102 KB
Chapter 2 Determination of Properties 1603 KB
Chapter 3 Improvement and Management of soils
in arid and semiarid regions
623 KB
Chapter 4 Plant Response and Crop Selection 2825 KB
Chapter 5 Quality of Irrigation Water 2327 KB
Chapter 6 Methods for Soil Characterization 1585 KB
Chapter 7 Methods of Plant Culture and Analysis 1660 KB
Chapter 8 Methods of Analysis of Irrigation Waters 1842 KB
Literature Literature Cited 1082 KB
Glossary Glossary 646 KB
Appendix Appendix 488 KB
Handbook 60 (in its entirety) 16,660 KB
Recommended: save file to your hard drive and open it from there
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Overview and Keywords
The Handbook 60 Keyword Index allows the reader to quickly view the contents of this historic document, prior to downloading a PDF file. Note that many of the techniques mentioned are obsolete and have been replaced by modern methodologies.
Chapter 1 Origin and nature of saline and alkali soils
Chapter 2 Determination of the properties of saline and alkali soils
Chapter 3 Improvement and management of soils in arid and semiarid regions
in relation to salinity and alkali
Chapter 4 Plant response and crop selection for saline and alkali soils
Chapter 5 Quality of irrigation water
Chapter 6 Methods for soil characterization
Chapter 7 Methods of plant culture and plant analysis
Chapter 8 Methods of analysis of irrigation waters

Chapter 1. Origin and nature of saline and alkali soils

Sources of soluble salts
Salinization of soils
Alkalication or accumulation of exchangeable sodium in soils
Characteristics of saline and alkali soils
Saline soils
Saline-alkali soils
Nonsaline-alkali soils

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Chapter 2. Determination of the properties of saline and alkali soils

Soil sampling
Estimation of soluble salts from electrical conductivity of the saturation extract and the saturation percentage
Relation of conductivity to salt content and osmotic pressure
Conductivity of 1:1 and 1:5 extracts
Salinity appraisal from the electrical resistance of soil paste
Conversion of conductivity data to a standard reference temperature
Comparison of percent salt in soil and extract measurements
Chemical determinations
Soil reaction-pH
Soluble cations and anions
Soluble boron.
Exchangeable cations
Gypsum 20
Alkaline-earth carbonates (lime)
Physical determinations
Infiltration rate
Permeability and hydraulic conductivity
Moisture retention by soil
Density and porosity
Aggregation and stability of structure
Crust formation
Choice of determinations and interpretation of data.
Equilibrium relations between soluble and exchangeable cations
Chemical analyses of representative soil samples
Nonsaline-nonalkali soils
Saline soils
Nonsaline-alkali soils
Saline-alkali soils
Cross-checking chemical analyses for consistency and reliability
Factors that modify the effect of exchangeable sodium on sods
Surface area and type of clay minerals
Potassium status and soluble silicate
Organic matter
Sequence of determinations for soil diagnosis

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Chapter 3. Improvement and management of soils in arid and semiarid regions
in relation to salinity and alkali

Basic principles
Irrigation and leaching in relation io salinity control
Leaching requirement
Leaching methods
Field leaching trials
Special practices for salinity control
Drainage of irrigated lands in relation to salinity control
Drainage requirements
Water-transmission properties of soils
Boundary conditions
Layout and placement of drains
Techniques for drainage investigations
Measurements of hydraulic head
Determination of subsoil stratigraphy
Determination of water-transmitting properties of soils
Chemical amendments for replacement of exchange able sodium
Suitability of various amendments under different soil conditions
Chemical reactions of various amendments in alkali soils
Class 1. Soils containing alkaline-earth carbonates
Class 2. Soils containing no alkaline-earth carbonates; pH 7.5 or higher
Class 3. Soils containing no alkaline-earth carbonates; pH less than 7.5
Estimation of amounts of various amendments needed for exchangeable-sodium replacement
Speed of reaction of amendments and economic considerations
Application of amendments
Laboratory and greenhouse tests as aids to diagnosis
Reclamation tests in the field
Reclamation of saline and alkali soils in humid regions

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Chapter 4. Plant response and crop selection for saline and alkali soils

Significance of indicator plants for saline soils
Indicator plants
Crop response on saline soils
Salinity and water availability
Specific ion effects
Plant analysis
Crop selection for saline soils
Relative salt tolerance of crop plants
Relative boron tolerance of crop plants

Chapter 5. Quality of irrigation water

Methods of analysis
Characteristics that determine quality
Electrical conductivity
Typical waters
Classification of Irrigation waters
Salinity hazard
Sodium hazard
Diagram for classifying irrigation waters
Effect of boron concentration on quality

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Chapter 6. Methods for soil characterization

Sampling, soil extracts, and salinity appraisal
(1)Soil sample collecting, handling, and subsampling 83
(2) Saturated soil paste 84
(3) Soil-water extracts 84
(3a) Saturation extract 84
(3b) Twice-saturation extract for coarse-textured soils (tentative) 88
(3c) Soil-water extracts at 1:1 and 1:5 88
(3d) Soil extract in the field-moisture range 88
(4) Electrical conductivity of solutions.89
(4a) Standard Wheatstone bridge 89
(4b) Direct indicating bridge 89
(5) Resistance of soil paste and percent salt in soil 91
(6) Freezing-point depression 91
(6a) Freezing-point depression of solutions 91
(6h) Freezing-point depression of water in soil cores 93
Soluble cations and anions 94
(7) Calcium and magnesium by titration with ethylenediaminetetraacetate (Versenate). 94
(8) Calcium by precipitation as calcium oxalate. 95
(9) Magnesium by precipitation as magnesium ammonium phosphate 95
(10) Sodium 96
(10a) Sodium by flame photometer 96
(10b) Sodium by precipitation as sodium uranylzinc acetate 97
(11) Potassium 97
(Ila) Potassium by flame photometer 97
(llb) Potassium by precipitation as potassium dipicrylaminate 98
(12) Carbonate and bicarbonate by titration with acid 98
(13) Chloride by titration with silver nitrate 98
(14) Sulfate 99
(14a) Sulfate by precipitation as barium sulfate 99
(14b) Sulfate by precipitation as calcium sulfate 99
(15) Nitrate by phenoldisulfonic acid 100
(16) Silicate as silicomolybdate 100
(17) Boron 100
Exchangeable cations 100
(18) Exchangeable cations 100
(19) Cation-exchange-capacity 101
(20) Exchangeable-cation percentages 101
(20a) Exchangeable-cation percentages by direct determination 101
(20b) Estimation of exchangeable-sodium-percentage and exchangeable-potassium-percentage from soluble cations 102
Supplementary measurements 102
(21) pH determinations 102
(21a) pH reading of saturated soil paste 102
(21b) pH reading of soil suspension 102
(21c) pH reading of waters, solutions, and soil extracts 102
(22) Gypsum 102
(22a) Gypsum by recipitation with acetone (qualitative 102
(22b) Gypsum by precipitation with acetone (quantitative) 104
(22c) Gypsum by increase in soluble calcium plus magnesium content upon dilution.104
(22d) Gypsum requirement 104
(23) Alkaline-earth carbonates (lime) 105
(23a) Alkaline-earth carbonates by effervescence with acid 105
(23b) Alkaline-earth carbonates by gravimetric loss of carbon dioxide 105
(23c) Alkaline-earth carbonates from acid neutralization 105
(24) Organic matter 105
(25) Total and external ethylene glycol retention 106
Soil water 107
(26) Soil-moisture content 107
(27) Saturation percentage 107
(27a) Saturation percentage from oven-drying. 107
(27b) Saturation percentage from volume of water added 107
(27c) Saturation percentage from the weight of a known volume of paste 107
(28) Infiltration rate 108
(28a) Basin 108
(28b) Cylinder 108
(29) 1/10-atmosspner- percentage 109
(30) 1/3-atmosphere percentage 109
(31) 15-atmospp percentage 109
(32) Moisture-retention curve 110
(33) Field-moisture range 111
(34) Hydraulic conductivity 111
(34a) Hydraulic conductivity of soil cores
(34b) Hydraulic conductivity of disturbed soil 112
(340 Hydraulic conductivity from piezometer measurements 113
(34d) Hydraulic conductivity from auger-hole measurements 114
(35) Hydraulic-head measurements in saturated soil 116
(35a) Piesometers installed by driving 116
(35b) Piezometers installed by jetting 117
(35c) Observation wells uncased or with perforated casing 117
(36) Ground-water graphical methods 118
(36a) Water-table contour maps 118
(36b) Water-table isobath maps 118
(36c) Profile flow patterns for ground water 118
(36d) Water-table isopleths for showing time variations in the elevation of the water table 119
Physical measurements 120
(37) Intrinsic permeability 120
(37a) Permeability of soil to air 120
(37b) Permeability of soil to water 121
(38) Bulk density 121
(39) Particle density 122
(40) Porosity 122
(41) Particle-size distribution 122
(42) Aggregate-size distribution 124
(42a) Wet sieving 124
(42b) Aggregation of particles less than SO microns 125
(43) M Olulus of rupture 126

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Chapter 7. Methods of plant culture and plant analysis

Plant-culture techniques adapted to salt-tolerance investigations
(50) Artificially salinized field plots.127
(51) Drum cultures 128
(52) Sand and water cultures, 128
Methods of plant analysis128
(53) Sampling and preparation of plant samples128
(54) Ashing 129
(54a) Wet digestion,129
(54b) Magnesium nitrate ignition 129
(55) Calcium 129
(55a) Calcium by flame photometer129
(55b) Calcium by oxalate method130
(56) Magnesium 130
(57) Sodium 131
(57a) Sodium by flame photometer131
(57b) Sodium by uranyl zinc acetate 131
(58) Potassium 132
(58a) Potassium by flame photometer 132
(58b) Potassium by cobaltinitrite 132
(59) Chloride 133
(60) Sulfur 134
(61) Phosphorus 134
(62)Boron 134

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Chapter 8. Methods of analysis of irrigation waters

(70) Collection of irrigation water samples
(71) Records, reports, and expression of results
(72) Electrical conductivity
(73) Boron
(73a) Boron, electrometric titration
(73b) Boron, colorimetric, using carmine
(74) Dissolved solids.
(75) pH of waters
(76) Silica
(76a) Silica, gravimetric
(76b) Silica, colorimetric
(77) Calcium
(78) Magnesium
(79) Calcium and magnesium by the Versenate method
(80a) Sodium by uranyl zinc acetate, gravimetric
(80b) Sodium by flame photometer
(81) Potassium
(81 a) Potassium by cobaltinitrite, gravimetric
(81b) Potassium by cobaltinitrite, volumetric.
(81c) Potassium by flame photometer
(82) Carbonate and bicarbonate
(83) Sulfate
(84) Chloride
(8.5) Fluoride
(86) Nitrate
(86a) Nitrate, phenoldisulfonic acid
(86b) Nitrate, Devarda

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Literature cited


Symbols and abbreviations

Conversion formulas and factors

Chemical symbols, equivalent weights, and common names

Soil sampler and core retainer

Modulus of rupture apparatus

Last Modified: 5/24/2010