Field study of salt balance of a land application system

Runbin Duan, Clifford B. Fedler, Christopher D. Sheppard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Wastewater land application is a cost-effective method to treat and dispose wastewater; however, it may cause soil salinization. Salt mass balance and the potential soil salinization caused by the wastewater land application were investigated in the crop root zone in a wastewater land application system at the City of Littlefield, TX, USA from October 7, 2005 to September 28, 2007 using a lysimeter system. This study showed that, after 2 years of wastewater land application, the ranges of soil salinity were still lower than the threshold (8,500 μS/cm) for Bermuda grass assuming a 10% yield reduction. The leached salt mass showed large spatial and temporal variation. The average values of electrical conductivity of the saturated paste extract of the soil samples increased from 1,433 μS/cm in June 2006 to 1,840 μS/cm in June 2007. The average values of the soil sodium adsorption ratio between June 2006 and June 2007 increased from 11 to 14 resulting in a potential risk of soil dispersion and decreasing the soil infiltration rate. Although the measured leaching fractions in nearly all sampling periods, except one, were higher than the leaching requirement, salt accumulations in the root zone were still found with only two exceptions. Since the time required for reaching equilibrium between cumulative salt mass input and cumulative salt mass output varies from 1 year to a few years, or even longer, the long-term investigation is recommended for the study of salt mass balance in the root zone of this wastewater land application system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Municipal wastewater
  • On-site sewage facility (OSSF)
  • Sustainable water resources
  • Water recycling
  • Water reuse


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