An Assessment of Irrigation Water Quality and Selected Soil Parameters at Mutema Irrigation Scheme, Zimbabwe


Soil salinity and sodicity are major factors limiting agricultural productivity in irrigation schemes located in semi-arid areas. A study was conducted to assess the quality of irrigation water used in Mutema Irrigation Scheme located in south-east Zimbabwe to understand how irrigation water quality is related to the chemical quality of soils in the scheme. Irrigation water samples were collected from groundwater and surface sources in 2012 and their hydrochemistry determined while soil samples were collected from irrigated and non-irrigated parts of the scheme in 2006 and 2012 and analysed for selected chemical properties. The results indicated that the groundwater had high concentrations of Na+ (4.35 mg/l), Mg2+ (4.75 mg/l), Cl- (3.6 mg/l) and Electrical Conductivity (EC) (1729 Msm/cm) compared to the surface irrigation water source which had 0.72 mg/l Na+, 2.25 mg/l Mg2+, 0.78 mg/l Cl- and 594 Msm/cm EC. The soils in the scheme had higher levels of pH, Sodium Adsorption Ratio (SAR), Exchangeable Sodium Percentage (ESP) and EC which in some blocks exceeded the threshold requirements for cropping. It was found that pH, SAR and ESP were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in irrigated blocks compared to non-irrigated areas of the scheme, indicating an influence of irrigation water on soils characteristics in irrigated plots. Mg2+ and Ca2+ in the soils positively correlated with Na+ (r2 = 0.67 and r2 = 0.57 respectively). The results indicated that the groundwater presents a chloride hazard to the soils in the scheme which are becoming saline and therefore require proper management and choice of crops to sustain crop production.

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Chemura, A. , Kutywayo, D. , Chagwesha, T. and Chidoko, P. (2014) An Assessment of Irrigation Water Quality and Selected Soil Parameters at Mutema Irrigation Scheme, Zimbabwe. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 6, 132-140. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2014.62018.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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