Geophysical Quantification of Water Percolation Quotient in an Alluvial Agricultural Soil

  •  Florence Cassel    
  •  Shankar Sharma    


Efficient water use planning is crucial for the sustainability of irrigated agriculture in California, where alluvial geological materials with indigenous salts impinge on crop growth. To facilitate irrigation scheduling and cultivation planning, it is necessary to determine water percolation quotients (WPQ) required for removal of excess salts from the rhizosphere. In order to estimate real-time WPQ, we conducted electromagnetic geophysical surveys at a saline farmland followed by stochastic computations. Results showed a wide variability in salinity that reached 16 dS m-1 in some locations. About 95% of the surveyed samples surpassed 2 dS m-1. Despite spatially dependent asymmetric variability and skewness (-0.13 to 1.90), the WPQ distribution patterns were consistently quantified with low errors (< 0.06). The sensor responses in the fields reached 100% cumulative frequency at a threshold of 13.6 dS m-1. Up to 49% of WPQ data ranged from 0.1 to 0.2. The WPQ decreased with increasing salinity and the zones with low quotient values represented areas where plant growth could be impaired. High WPQ levels demarcated zones with potential solute dissolution and dispersion. Overall, evaluation of WPQ can benefit irrigation planning and crop management practices while enhancing water use efficiency for agricultural production in farms that have been affected by drought and water shortage, and crop growth can be sustained at WPQ level that maintains salts below the crop tolerance threshold.

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