Tanton, T.W., Armstrong, A.S.B. and Rycroft, D.W.
Seasonal movement of salts in naturally structured saline-sodic clay soils
Agricultural Water Management, 32, (1), . (doi:10.1016/S0378-3774(96)01262-0).
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Seasonal changes in the distribution of salt and water in fields of both arable and grassland saline sodic clay soils were studied under temperate rainfed conditions. Leaching of the topsoils during winter rains was further investigated in soil columns. The field studies indicated the cyclical nature of leaching. During winter rains the water moving through the macropores uniformly leached salt from the soil profile to a depth of 1.2 m, but in late summer the salt content of the grassland and arable soils had increased again by 11% and 35% respectively compared with their early spring salinity levels. The results indicated that the salt leached in winter was mainly not lost, but leached below 1.2 m, only to rise again as the soil profile dried in the summer. The implications for managing and reclaiming these soils with gypsum are discussed.
Undisturbed grassland topsoils were slow to release salt into the leaching water, maximum salt concentration in the leachate only being reached well into the winters rains. In disturbed arable soils the maximum leachate concentration was achieved shortly after leaching commenced. The changes in surface structure brought about by rainfall impact on bare restructured ploughlayer soils caused a significant decline in leaching efficiency (up to 40%).
The observed pattern of leaching questions the validity of the basic assumptions used in most of the mathematical leaching models.
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