Submitted to: Proceedings of the Third World Water Forum Kyoto Japan
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/4/2003
Publication Date: 3/20/2003
Citation: Suarez, D.L. Irrigation with saline water for sustainable agricultural production. 2003. The 3rd World Water Forum, Kyoto, Japan. CD-ROM. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Current irrigation practices in arid and semi-arid regions are not sustainable. Increasing demands for fresh water for urban and industrial uses will further restrict availability of high quality waters for irrigation. However, most arid and semi-arid regions have large quantities of brackish and saline water that can be used for irrigation. Existing water quality criteria, developed to avoid potential problems, are overly cautious if proper management is practiced. Mediterranean climatic conditions result in winter leaching of surface soils, allowing for low salinity conditions during early growth stages, which are generally the most salt sensitive. Recent research indicates that salt tolerance is greater in mixed salt solutions than in the chloride solutions upon which most salt tolerance data are based. Advances in knowledge of plant salt response suggests that increased salt tolerant varieties can be developed for salt sensitive and moderately salt tolerant crops such as rice and tomatoes and that high quality forage can be grown with saline water. New remote sensing technology can be used to provide rapid and inexpensive detailed salinity assessments. Development of new irrigation systems and rehabilitation of older projects should include capability to reuse saline drainage water, thereby also avoiding discharge into limited fresh waters.