HU - Hydrogeology and Environment

Journal of the Dept. of Hydrogeology and Environment, University of Würzburg (ISSN 09309-3757)

Editorial office: BGI, Greisingstr. 8, 97074 Würzburg, GERMANY

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Vol. 21 (2000)


Vol. 21: 

Effects of Brackish Irrigation Water on Soil Properties in the Jordan Valley/Jordan

Brigitta Meier

The Jordan Valley as a whole lies in one of the most fragile agroecological zones of the world. The scarcity of rainfall and the extremely high temperatures over several months contribute to the aridity of the area. In the Jordan Valley, as in many other parts of the world, soil moisture from rain and from groundwater is insufficient for the requirements of plant life, so that water deficiency must be compensated by irrigation. Although irrigation has been practiced throughout the world for several millennia, it is only during the last decades that the importance of the quality of irrigation water has been recognized, particularly in arid climates. As good quality irrigation water becomes more and more limited irrigated agriculture in the Jordan Valley makes increasingly use of treated waste water or brackish (slightly saline) water.

This thesis investigates the influence of different types of irrigation water – irrigation water coming from King Abdullah Canal, irrigation water coming from King Talal Dam (Zarqa River) and irrigation water coming from one of the mineral rich springs, the Al Bueib springs – on one soil in the middle part of the Jordan Valley. The soil was classified by the Jordan Valley Authority as Marly Side Slope Soil. This fallow soil, that has not been cultivated and irrigated since many years was compared with the permanently cultivated and irrigated soil to find out how soil properties change over time.

To summarize the analysed boron, chloride, magnesium, nitrate-nitrogen, potassium, manganese and iron concentrations are higher at the three soil sites investigated than recommended in the corresponding quality standards. The soil site irrigated by King Abdullah Canal water has the lowest salt concentrations compared to the other two soil sites. Boron, chloride and potassium concentrations are highest at the soil site irrigated by King Talal Dam water. The heavy metal concentrations are highest at the soil site irrigated by Al Bueib spring water. The results of the analysed soil data reflect the quality of the irrigation water. Under trees the soil directly reflects the composition of the litter. The main differences between irrigated soil sites and virgin soil sites are the degree of moisture in the soil that cause chemical reactions.

Paper language: english

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