Irrigation Water Salinity and Crop Production

STEPHEN R. GRATTAN, Plant-Water Relations Specialist, University of California, Davis Publication 8066

Irrigation water quality can have a profound impact on crop production. All irrigation water contains dissolved mineral salts, but the concentration and composition of the dissolved salts vary depending on the source of the irrigation water. For example, snow melt or water supplies from the Sierra Nevada contain very small amounts of salt whereas groundwater or wastewater typically has higher salt levels. Too much salt can reduce or even prohibit crop production while too little salt can reduce water infiltration, which indirectly affects the crop. An understanding of the quality of water used for irrigation and its potential negative impacts on crop growth is

essential to avoid problems and to optimize production. For more information on any of the issues found in this publication, please contact your local University of California Cooperative Extension office.


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