Modelling Irrigation and Salinity Management Strategies in the Ord Irrigation Area
Riasat Ali, John Byrne, Tara Slaven
DOI: 10.4236/nr.2010.11005   PDF    HTML     5,007 Downloads   10,815 Views   Citations


The Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA) is located within northern Western Australia near the Northern Territory border. Since the beginning of irrigated agriculture in the ORIA the groundwater levels have been continuously rising and are now close to the soil surface in some parts of ORIA in northern Western Australia. The groundwater is now saline throughout most of the ORIA and soil salinity risks are high where the watertables are shallow. This research evaluated irrigation and salinity management strategies for sugarcane and maize crops grown over deep and shallow, non-saline and saline watertables in the ORIA. The LEACHC model, calibrated using field data, was used to predict the impacts of various irrigation management strategies on water use and salt accumulation in the root zone. This study concluded that irrigation application equal to 100% of total fortnightly pan evaporation applied at 14 day intervals was a good irrigation strategy for the maize grown over a deep watertable area. This strategy would require around 11 ML/ha of irrigation water per growing season. Irrigation application equal to 75% of total fortnightly pan evaporation, applied every fortnight during first half of the growing season, and 75% of total weekly pan evaporation, applied on a weekly basis during second half of the growing season, would be the best irrigation strategy if it is feasible to change the irrigation interval from 14 to seven days. This irrigation strategy is predicted to have minimal salinity risks and save around 40% irrigation water. The best irrigation strategy for sugarcane grown on Cununurra clay over a deep watertable area would be irrigation application equal to 50% of the total fortnightly pan evaporation, applied every fortnight during first quarter of the growing season, and irrigation application amounts equal to 100% of total weekly pan evaporation, applied every week during rest of the season. The model predicted no soil salinity risks from this irrigation strategy. The best irrigation strategy for sugarcane over a non-saline, shallow watertable of one or two m depth would be irrigation application amounts equal to 50% of total fortnightly pan evaporation applied every fortnight. In the case of a saline watertable the same irrigation strategy was predicted to the best with respect to water use efficiency but will have high salinity risks without any drainage management.

Share and Cite:

R. Ali, J. Byrne and T. Slaven, "Modelling Irrigation and Salinity Management Strategies in the Ord Irrigation Area," Natural Resources, Vol. 1 No. 1, 2010, pp. 34-56. doi: 10.4236/nr.2010.11005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] K. K. Tanji and N. C. Kielen, “Agricultural Drainage Water Management in Arid and Semi-Arid Areas,” FAO Irrigation and Drainage, FAO, Rome, 2000.
[2] P. Rengasamy, “World Salinisation with Emphasis on Australia,” Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 57, No. 5, 2006, pp. 1017-1023.
[3] A. J. Smith, “Rainfall and Irrigation Controls on Groundwater Rise and Salinity Risk in the Ord River Irrigation Area, Northern Australia,” Hydrogeology Journal, Vol. 16, No. 6, 2008, pp. 1159-1175.
[4] A. J. Smith, D. Pollock and D. Palmer, “Review of Groundwater Monitoring and Reporting in the Ord Stage 1 Irrigation Area,” Kununurrra, Western Australia, 2006.
[5] R. Salama, E. Bekele, L. Bates, D. Pollock and V. Gailitis, “Hydrochemical and Isotopic Characteristics of the Surface and Groundwater of the Hydrological Zones of the Ord Stage I Irrigation Area,” CSIRO Land and Water Technical Report 8/02, 2002.
[6] R. Ali, R. Salama, D. Pollock and L. Bates, “Geochemical Interactions Between Groundwater and Soil, Groundwater Recycling and Evaporation in the ORIA,” CSIRO Land and Water Technical Report 21/02, 2002.
[7] R. Ali, R. L. Elliott and J. E. Ayars, “Soil Salinity Modelling under Shallow Watertable Conditions: (ii) Model calibration,” Journal of Irrigation Drainage Engineering, Vol. 126, No. 4, 2000a, pp. 234-242.
[8] A. R. L. Elliott and J. E. Ayars, “Soil Salinity Modelling under Shallow Watertable Conditions: (ii) Model Application,” Journal Irrigation Drainage Engineering, Vol. 126, No. 4, 2000b, pp. 234-242.
[9] J. K. Ruprecht and S. J. Rodgers, “Hydrology of the Ord river,” Water and Rivers Commission, Water Resources Technical Series No. WRT 24, 1999.
[10] T. C. Stoneman, “Packsaddle Plains Soil Survey,” Western Australia Department of Agriculture, Technical Bulletin No. 55, 1972.
[11] J. M. Aldrick, A. J. Clarke, P. W. Moody, M. H. R. van Cuylenburg and B. A. Wren, “Soils of the Ivanhoe Plain, East Kimberley, Western Australia,” Western Australian Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin 82, 1990.
[12] N. Schoknecht, “Assessment of the suitability for agriculture of the North-west Packsaddle Area, Kununurra,” Department of Agriculture Western Australia, Resource Management Technical Report 156, 1996.
[13] N. Schoknecht and C. Grose, “Soils of the Ivanhoe West Bank East Kimberley Western Australia,” Department of Agriculture Western Australia, Resource Management Technical Report 1551, 1996.
[14] G. M. Plunkett and R. C. Muchow, “Water Extraction by Sugarcane on Soils of the Ord Irrigation Area,” Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, Vol. 43, No. 5, 2003, pp. 487-495.
[15] A. L. Chapman, J. D. Sturtz, A. L. Cogle, W. S. Mollah and J. R. Bateman, “Farming Systems in the Australia Semi-Arid Tropics: A Recent History,” Australian Journal experimental Agriculture, Vol. 36, No. 8, 1996, pp. 915- 928.
[16] CSIRO, “Water in the Timor Sea Drainage Division, a Report to the Australian Government from the CSIRO Northern Australia Sustainable Yields Project,” CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country Flagship, Australia, 2009, p. 508.
[17] C. W. Rose, P. W. Dayananda, D. R. Nielsen and J. M. Biggar, “Long Term Solute Dynamics and Hydrology in Irrigated Slowly Permeable Soils,” Irrigation Science, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1979, pp. 77-87.
[18] Kinhill Pty. Ltd., “Water Infiltration Modelling for the Ord Sugar Project,” Ord River Irrigation Area Stage 2 Proposed Development of the M2 Area, Consultancy Report for Wesfarmers Ltd. Marubeni Corporation and the Water Corporation of Western Australia, Perth, August 1999.
[19] J. L. Hutson and R. J. Wagenet, “LEACHM ‘Leaching Estimation a Chemistry Model’ A Process-Based Model of Water and Solute Movement, Transformations, Plant Uptake, and Chemical Reactions in the Unsaturated Zone,” 3rd Edition, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1992.
[20] G. S. Campbell, “A Simple Method for Determining Unsaturated Conductivity from Moisture Retention Data,” Soil Science, Vol. 117, No. 6, 1974, pp. 311-314.
[21] J. L. Hutsonand and A. Cass, “A Retentivity Function for Use in Soil-Water Simulation Models,” Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 38, No. 1, 1987, pp. 105-113.
[22] B. J. Cosby, G. M. Hornberger, R. B. Clapp and T. R. Ginn, “A Statistical Exploration of the Relationships of Soil Moisture Characteristics to the Physical Properties of Soils Stochastic Modelling,” Water Resources Research, Vol. 26, No. 6, 1984, pp. 682-690.
[23] J. L. Hutson, “Water Retentivity of Some African Soils in Relation to Particle Size Criteria and Bulk Density,” South African Journal for Plant and Soil, Bureau for Scientific Publications, Foundation for Education, Science and Technology, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1986, pp.151-155.
[24] W. J. Rawls and D. L. Brakensiek, 1985. “Prediction of Soil Water Properties for Hydrologic Modelling,” In: E. B. Jones and T. J. Ward, Eds., Proceedings of a Symposium Watershed Management in the Eighties, New York, 30 April-1 May 1985, pp. 293-299.
[25] S. W. Childs and R. J. Hanks, “Model of Soil Salinity Effects on Crop Growth,” Soil Science Society of America Proceedings, Vol. 39, No. 4, 1975, pp. 617-622.
[26] S. W. Childs, “A Model to Predict the Effect of Salinity on Crop Growth,” Utah State University, Logan, Utah, 1975.
[27] J. M. Davidson, D.A. Graetz, C. Rao and H. M. Selim, “Simulation of Nitrogen Movement, Transformation and Uptake in Plant Root Zone,” EPA-600/3-78-029, 1978.
[28] M. N. Nimah and R. J. Hanks, “Model for Estimating Soil Water, Plant, and Atmospheric Interrelations, I. Description and Sensitivity,” Soil Science Society of America Proceedings, Vol. 37, No. 4, 1973, pp. 522-527.
[29] B. J. Bridge and R. C. Muchow, “Soil Water Relationships for Cununurra Clay and Ord Sandy Loam in the Ord River Irrigation Area,” Tropical Agronomy Technical Memorandum Number 30, CSIRO division of Tropical Crops and Pastures, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 1982.
[30] OGTR, “The Biology of Zea Mays L. Ssp Mays (Maize or Corn),” Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR), Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing, 2008, p. 80.
[31] M. Kondo, M. V. R. Murty, and D. V. Aragones, “Characteristics of Root Growth and Water Uptake from Soil in Upland Rice and Maize under Water Stress,” Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2000, pp. 721-732.
[32] L. M. Dwyer, B. L. Ma, D. W. Stewart, H. N. Hayhoe, D. Balchin, J. L. B. Culley and M. McGovern, “Root Mass Distribution under Conventional and Conservation Tillage,” Canadian Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 76, No. 1, 1996, pp. 23- 28.
[33] E. L. Anderson, “Tillage and N Fertilization Effects on Maize Root Growth and Root: Shoot Ratio,” Plant Soil, Vol. 108, No. 2, 1988, pp. 245-251.
[34] R. E. Danielson, 1967. “Root Systems in Relation to Irrigation,” In: R. M. Hagan, H. R. Haise and T. W. Edminster, Ed., Irrigation of Agricultural Lands, American Society of Agronomy, Wisconsin, 1967, pp. 390-413.
[35] C. J. Willmott, “On the Validation of Models,” Physical Geography, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1981, pp. 184-194.
[36] T. Roberts, N. Lazarovich, A. W. Warrick and T. L. Thompson, “Modelling Salt Accumulation with Subsurface Drip Irrigation Using HYDRUS-2D,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 73, No. 1, 2009, pp. 233- 240.
[37] R. C. Muchow, “Comparative Productivity of Maize, Sorghum and Pearl Millet in a Semi-Arid Tropical Environment. II. Effect of Water Deficits,” Field crops Research, Vol. 20, No. 3, 1989, pp. 207-219.
[38] K. S. Fischer and F. E. Palmer, “Tropical Maize,” In: P. R. Goldsworthy and N. M. Fischer, Eds., The Physiology of Tropical Field Crops, Wiley, Chichestor, 1984, pp. 213- 248.
[39] M. J. Robertson, N. G. Inman-Bamber, R. C. Muchow and A. W. Wood, “Physiology and Productivity of Sugarcane with Early and Mid-Season Water Deficit,” Filed Crops Research, Vol. 64, No. 3, 1999, pp. 211-227.
[40] R. C. Muchow and B. A. Keating, “Assessing Irrigation Requirements in the Ord Sugar Industry Using a Simulation Modelling Approach,” Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, Vol. 38, No. 4, 1998, pp. 345- 354.
[41] L. K. Stewart, P. B. Charlesworth, K. L. Bristow and P. J. Thorburn, “Estimating Deep Drainage and Nitrate Leaching from the Root Zone Under Sugarcane Using APSIM-SWIM,” Agricultural Water Management, Vol. 81, No. 3, 2006, pp. 315-334.
[42] C. A. Hurst, P. J. Thorburn, D. Lockington and K. L. Bristow, “Sugarcane Water Use from Shallow Water Tables: Implications for Improving Irrigation Water Use Efficiency,” Agricultural Water Management, Vol. 65, No. 2004, 2004, pp.1-19.
[43] G. Hunsigi and S. C. Srivastava, “Modulation of ET (Evapotranspiration) Values of Sugar Cane Because of High Water Table,” Proceedings of the 16th ISSCT Congress, Australia, 1977, pp. 1557-1564.
[44] Y. S. Chauhan, “Potential Productivity and Water Requirements of Maize-Peanut Rotations in Australian Semi-Arid Tropical Environments: A Crop Simulation Study,” Agricultural Water Management, Vol. 97, No. 3, 2010, pp. 457-464.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.