Quantitative Assessments of Water and Salt Balance for Cropping Systems in Lower Colorado River Irrigation Districts

Aug 2016 to Sep 2021

Collaborating Researcher(s)

Dr. Charles Sanchez, University of Arizona
Dr. Andrew French, USDA-ARS Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center
Dr. Mazin Saber, University of Arizona
Dr. Dawit Zerihun, University of Arizona
Dr. Juan Gonzalez Cena, University of Arizona
Dr. Paul Brown, University of Arizona
Dr. Clinton Williams, USDA-ARS Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center
Dr. Eduardo Bautista, USDA-ARS Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center

Project Supporter(s)

United States Bureau of Reclamation
USDA-ARS Arid Land Agricultural Research Service
Yuma County Agriculture Water Coalition
Various Grower Cooperators
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
University of Arizona Experiment Station Strategic Research Investment Funds
University of Arizona Water, Environmental & Energy Solutions - TRIF Project Funds
USDA/Arizona Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
Arizona Iceberg Lettuce Research Council
Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council
Arizona Citrus Research Council
Yuma Mesa Irrigation & Drainage District

Irrigation and soil salinity management are of paramount importance to agriculture sustainability in desert agriculture. Because irrigation water and shallow groundwater that fluxes up through the soil have salts, some level of excess irrigation (beyond crop consumptive use) must be applied to leach salts below the crop root zone. The various irrigation systems utilized, and the management of these systems can have a profound impact on water delivered, leaching achieved, and resulting salt distribution.

YCEDA is coordinating a large multi-institution cross-disciplinary project to quantitatively track water use and salt balance across typical crop production systems and rotations. Partners include the University of Arizona and USDA-ARS researchers, Irrigation Districts, United States Bureau of Reclamation, NASA, Arizona Commodity Councils, and others, including a group of University of Arizona-Yuma Systems Engineering seniors who completed a Senior Design project during the 2018-2019 academic year to support this project. Technologies such as electromagnetic surveys (EM38), Eddy covariance (ECV) and large aperture scintillometer (LAS) instrumentation, UAV with remote sensors, and satellites are being utilized to measure evapotranspiration (ET) and soil salinity levels at multiple scales. Data collection and analysis is ongoing. Ultimately, this unique data set will be used to develop irrigation management tools for most desert cropping systems that take into account actual crop ET and the needed leaching coefficient to assist growers to make an already efficient system even more efficient and sustainable.


Large Aperture Scintillometry (LAS) instrumentation

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