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Management of Soil Water Budgets of Recharge Areas for Control of Salinity in South-Western Australia

DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-444-41999-6.50021-5
  • Agricultural Science


ABSTRACT Sedgley, R.H., Smith, R.E. and Tennant, D., 1981. Management of soil water budgets of recharge areas for control of salinity in south-western Australia. Agric. Water Manage., 1981. Replacement of deeper-rooted indigenous flora with relatively shallow-rooted agricultural species typically causes small but consequential changes in the water balance in south-western Australia. Such changes, estimated as from 23 - 65 mm yr−1 out of annual rainfalls of from 400 - 1100 mm yr−1, have been estimated to cause significant increases in streamflow salinities. One method to help control salinization of land and stream water in agricultural areas is to manage the crop to utilize water so as to minimize recharge to the salt storage region. In studying the potential for recharge control in wheat belt agriculture, water profiles under wheat (Triticum aestivum) and subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) were compared at a 385 mm yr−1 area. Mostly because of the shallower rooting, the annual recharge under clover was almost twice that of wheat. In another demonstration, a numerical simulation of the same two species was performed in a high rainfall (680 mm yr−1) zone. Similar differences were obtained, though not as dramatic, with the model providing insight into relations between recharge and rain intensity patterns. Suggestions are made for several strategies to minimize recharge during and after the growing season, by better management of existing species, by the introduction of deeper-rooted species, and by use of crops which are more in phase with the availability of water.

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