Quality of irrigation water in Detail

Whatever may be the source of irrigation water viz., river, canal, tank, open well or tube well, some soluble salts are always dissolved in it. The main soluble constituent in water are Ca, Mg, Na and K as cations and chloride, sulphate bicarbonate and carbonate as anions.

However ions of other elements such as lithium, silicon, bromine, iodine, copper, cobalt, fluorine, boron, titanium, vanadium, barium, arsenic, antimony, beryllium, chromium, manganese, lead, selenium phosphate and organic matter are also present.

Among the soluble constituents, calcium, sodium, sulphate, bicarbonate and boron are important in determining the quality of irrigation water and its suitability for irrigation purposes. However other factors such as soil texture, permeability, drainage, type of crop etc., are equally important in determining the suitability of irrigation water.

The following are the most common problems that result from using poor quality water.

1. Salinity

If the total quantity of salts in the irrigation water is high, the salts will accumulate in the crop root zone and affect the crop growth and yield. Excess salt condition reduces uptake of water due to high concentration of soil solution.

2. Permeability

Some specific salts reduce the rate of infiltration in to the soil profile

3. Toxicity

When certain constituents of water are taken up by plans which accumulates in large quantities and results in plant toxicity and reduces yield.

4. Miscellaneous

Excessive Nitrogen in irrigation water causes excessive vegetative growth and leads to lodging and delayed crop maturity. White deposits on fruits or leaves may occur due to sprinkler irrigation with high bicarbonate water.

Classification of irrigation water quality

(SAR – Sodium Adsorption ratio)

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