Soil sodicity as a result of periodical drought

S. E.A.T.M. van der Zee, S. H.H. Shah, C. G.R. van Uffelen, P. A C Raats, N. dal Ferro

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Soil sodicity development is a process that depends nonlinearly on both salt concentration and composition of soil water. In particular in hot climates, soil water composition is subject to temporal variation due to dry-wet cycles. To investigate the effect of such cycles on soil salinity and sodicity, a simple root zone model is developed that accounts for annual salt accumulation and leaching periods. Cation exchange is simplified to considering only Ca/Na exchange, using the Gapon exchange equation. The resulting salt and Ca/Na-balances are solved for a series of dry/wet cycles with a standard numerical approach. Due to the nonlinearities in the Gapon equation, the fluctuations of soil salinity that may be induced, e.g. by fluctuating soil water content, affect sodicity development. Even for the case that salinity is in a periodic steady state, where salt concentrations do not increase on the long term, sodicity may still grow as a function of time from year to year. For the longer term, sodicity, as quantified by Exchangeable Sodium Percentage (ESP), approaches a maximum value that depends on drought and inflowing water quality, but not on soil cation exchange capacity. Analytical approaches for the salinity and sodicity developing under such fluctuating regimes appear to be in good agreement with numerical approximations and are very useful for checking numerical results and anticipating changes in practical situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Dry-wet cycles
  • Ecohydrology
  • Leaching
  • Root zone model
  • Salinity
  • Salt accumulation
  • Sodicity
  • Water management

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