Using Saline Water for Crop Production in New Mexico
New Mexico has vast supplies of saline groundwaters whose use could expand irrigated agriculture and conserve good quality water for domestic use. Unfortunately, little is known of the long-term effects of such waters on soils and crops common to New Mexico. Thus, two studies were conducted to determine the feasibility of using various salinity waters (total dissolved solids 1,250-15,000 mg/l).
Greenhouse data suggest that the most realistic way to utilize saline waters is as supplements to normal fresh water irrigations. The degree of supplementation possible without severe yield reductions varies inversely with water salinity. However, very saline waters (10,000 and 15,000 mg/l TDS) are not likely to be of practical use for common agricultural crops at any degree of supplementation.
Using saline water as the sole source of irrigation water is reasonable for long-term cultivation of common crops only with the lowest salinity water (1250 mg/l TDS). One season emergencies may be met with waters as saline as 2,500-5,000 mg/l TDS, but continued use will severely reduce yields.
Project No. A-061-NMEX, 1345618, 1423611, 1423621