Irrigation water quality in tree nurseries in the inland west
Irrigation water quality is the most critical factor in tree nursery management. Even soil properties are secondary to water quality because poor irrigation water can ruin nursery soil. The definition of water quality is dependent on use, but for agricultural purposes the concentration and composition of dissolved salts determine its value for irrigation (USDA Salinity Lab 1969). In semiarid climates, where evaporation exceeds precipitation, the soluble salt levels of irrigation water often reach damaging levels. Most of the Inland West is classified as semiarid, especially at lower elevations where most tree nurseries are located. All plants are susceptible to salt injury under certain conditions; but tree seedlings, and conifers in particular, are very sensitive to soluble salts. Many bare-root tree nurseries in the Inland West have experienced growth problems that can be attributed to soil salinity. Salinity problems can develop in containerized seedling nurseries when irrigation and fertilization are improperly applied. The objective of this study was to chemically analyze irrigation water from a variety of tree nurseries in the Inland West and to discuss techniques to remedy water quality problems.
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Author(s): Thomas D. Landis
Publication: National Nursery Proceedings - 1981
Proceedings of the 1981 Intermountain Nurserymen's Association meeting
1981 - Edmonton, Alberta