University of California

Reuse of Drainage Water for Irrigation: Results of Imperial Valley Study: I. Hypothesis, Experimental Procedures, and Cropping Results


James D. Rhoades
Frank T. Bingham
John Letey
Allan R. Dedrick
Maura Bean
Glenn J. Hoffman
William J. Alves
Robert V. Swain
Porfirio G. Pacheco
Robert D. Lemert

Authors Affiliations

James D. Rhoades was Research Leader, U.S. Salinity Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), 4500 Glenwood Drive, Riverside, CA 92501; Frank T. Bingham (deceased) was Professor, Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside; John Letey was Professor, Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside; Allan R. Dedrick was Agricultural Engineer, USDA-ARS, U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory, Phoenix, Arizona; Maura Bean was Research Food Technologist, Western Regional Research Center, Albany, California; Glenn J. Hoffman was Research Leader, USDA-ARS, Water Management Research Laboratory, Fresno, California; William J. Alves was Computer Specialist, USDA-ARS, U.S. Salinity Laboratory, Riverside, California; Robert V. Swain was Agricultural Research Technician, USDA-ARS Irrigation Desert Research Station, Brawley, California; Porfirio G. Pacheco was Laboratory Assistant, Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside; Robert D. Lemert was Physical Science Technician, USDA-ARS, U.S. Salinity Laboratory, Riverside, California.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 56(5):1-16. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v56n05p016. October 1988.

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An irrigation/cropping management strategy has been developed to facilitate the use of brackish waters for irrigation, with the goal of expanding the available water supply and minimizing the off-site pollution potential of drainage disposal. A field experiment conducted in the Imperial Valley of California to test the strategy has produced four years of cropping results. After seedling establishment, when the crops were in a sufficiently mature, salt-tolerant growth stage, brackish drainage water (Alamo River) was substituted for the normal water (Colorado River) to irrigate wheat and sugarbeets (in a successive crop rotation of wheat:sugarbeets:cantaloupes) and cotton (in a block rotation of cotton:cotton:wheat:alfalfa). A good stand was obtained under relatively low conditions of salinity by using Colorado River water for the preplant and early-season irrigations.

The salt-sensitive crops in the rotations (cantaloupes and alfalfa) were irrigated with Colorado River water only. This procedure kept soil salinity within acceptable limits over time so that production and quality were sustained when the sensitive crops were grown on the same land.

The high crop yields and qualities obtained in this field test support the validity of the recommended strategy.

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Rhoades J, Bingham F, Letey J, Dedrick A, Bean M, Hoffman G, Alves W, Swain R, Pacheco P, Lemert R. 1988. Reuse of Drainage Water for Irrigation: Results of Imperial Valley Study: I. Hypothesis, Experimental Procedures, and Cropping Results. Hilgardia 56(5):1-16. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v56n05p016
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