Sustainable root zone salinity and shallow water table in the context of land retirement

Purnendu N. Singh, Wesley W. Wallender, Marco P. Maneta, Stephen L. Lee, Beatrice A. Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study uses five years of field data from the Land Retirement Demonstration Project located in western Fresno County of California to develop a comprehensive theoretical and numerical modeling framework to evaluate the specific site conditions required for a sustainable land retirement outcome based on natural drainage. Using field data, principles of mass balance in a control volume, the HYDRUS-1D software package for simulating one-dimensional movement of water, heat, and multiple solutes in variably-saturated media, and a model-independent parameter optimizer, the processes of soil water and solute movement in root zone and deep vadose zone were investigated. The optimization of unsaturated soil hydraulic parameters and downward flux (natural drainage) from the control volume against observed vadose zone salinity levels and shallow groundwater levels yield difficult to obtain natural drainage rate as a function of water table height within the control volume. The results show that the unsaturated soil hydraulic properties and the downward flux from the soil profile are the critical parameters. A "natural drainage approach" to sustainable land management for drainage-impaired land is proposed. With this approach it is feasible to design a sustainable land use regimen for drainage-impaired lands in general and retired lands in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Article number002005QIR
Pages (from-to)289-299
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Drainage
  • Irrigation
  • Land management
  • Leaching
  • Salt balance


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