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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Chapter 6 Design and Management of Reclaimed Water Irrigation Systems

Authors
item Christen, Evan - CSIRO
item Ayars, James
item Hornbuckle, John - CSIRO
item Biswas, Tapas - CSIRO

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2002
Publication Date: April 1, 2006
Citation: Christen, E., Ayars, J.E., Hornbuckle, J., Biswas, T. 2006. Chapter 6 design and management of reclaimed water irrigation systems. Australian Journal of Soil Research, Chapter 6, pp 107-123.

Interpretive Summary: As the demand municipal and industrial water increases, there will be less water available for irrigated agriculture. The use of water supplies such as saline drainage water and reclaimed municipal waste water are viable alternatives. These alternative water supplies each have limitations when used in irrigated agriculture. This chapter is part of book that describes in detail the use of reclaimed water in irrigated agriculture under conditions found in Australia. This chapter discusses the selection of an irrigation system for application of reclaimed water in relation to the soils, water quality, and cropping pattern. It details the pros and cons of each system. While sprinkler irrigation and surface irrigation can be used to apply reclaimed water the potential for harm to crops and humans is greater than in drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is the preferred method of application if high value crops can be grown and the water quality of the reclaimed water does not result in excessive operation costs. Crops with a sustained demand for water are desirable if continuous disposal of water is required.

Technical Abstract: An appropriately designed and operated irrigation scheme is crucial to maximise the benefits of reclaimed water in irrigated agriculture. Horticultural crops and other high value crops will be the best crops to utilise reclaimed water since they should be economically sustainable and they will benefit from the use of irrigation systems that have good water application control and uniformity. Although the method of water application is dependent on many site and economic considerations, the most efficient system, with least human and environmental risk, is generally considered to be drip irrigation. However, this may not be suitable for a particular agricultural system due to soil physical properties, establishment difficulties, cost considerations and other factors outlined in this chapter. Furrow irrigation is most often the cheapest option, but has low levels of control and uniformity. Where furrow irrigation is to be used, good design, using modern techniques can make a large difference in the performance of the system. Irrigation management is crucial when using reclaimed water. Good irrigation scheduling and management methods are important to maximise production whilst minimising environmental impacts. Good drainage is also required to suit the soil, water and environmental conditions of the reclaimed water irrigation scheme. All these factors are crucial for the success and sustainability of any reclaimed water scheme.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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