Treated wastewater irrigation effects on soil hydraulic conductivity and aggregate stability of loamy soils in Israel

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Abstract

The use of treated wastewater (TWW) for agricultural irrigation becomes increasingly important in water stressed regions like the Middle East for substituting fresh water (FW) resources. Due to elevated salt concentrations and organic compounds in TWW this practice has potential adverse effects on soil quality, such as the reduction of hydraulic conductivity (HC) and soil aggregate stability (SAS). To assess the impact of TWW irrigation in comparison to FW irrigation on HC, in-situ infiltration measurements using mini disk infiltrometer were deployed in four different long-term experimental orchard test sites in Israel. Topsoil samples (0-10 cm) were collected for analyzing SAS and determination of selected soil chemical and physical characteristics.

The mean HC values decreased at all TWW sites by 42.9% up to 50.8% compared to FW sites. The SAS was 11.3% to 32.4% lower at all TWW sites. Soil electrical conductivity (EC) and exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) were generally higher at TWW sites. These results indicate the use of TWW for irrigation is a viable, but potentially deleterious option, as it influences soil physical and chemical properties.

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