Cropping with Saline Irrigation Water

Irrigation Guidelines

1. Monitor salt levels in the water and soil. Use the DPIPWE SALTPAK to quickly determine if irrigation water is approaching critical levels for leaf scald or if leaching of accumulated soil salt is required. A two minute test removes the guess work!

2. Irrigate little and often to avoid run off and ponding. Salt levels will gradually accumulate in the topsoil unless rainfall occurs to wash accumulated salts out as runoff and leaching. If no rainfall occurs between three or four successive irrigations, apply a heavier irrigation to leach surface salts away.

3. Grow crops in raised beds. Remember, salts accumulate where evaporation occurs, mainly in the wheelings and bottom edges of the beds where excess water emerges. The beds themselves have a good through flow of applied water that takes the salt with it.

4. Form beds/rows up and down slope. Ensure a continuous fall down the rows, provided there is no risk of erosion. Dig drains across rows where required.

5. Avoid Ponding - link hollows with broad, shallow waterways.

6. Orientate Planting so that beds or rows have a continuous fall and the ends drain freely off the paddock or into waterways.

7. Do not form beds in shallow topsoils. Mixing in subsoil permanently degrades the quality of the soil.

8. Do not form raised beds in shallow duplex soils. Grow these crops elsewhere.