Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015ND300B

Quantifying Soluble Salt Removal from Subsurface Tile-Drain Agricultural Fields

Institute: North Dakota
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $4,800 Total Non-Federal Funds: $9,600

Principal Investigators: Francis Casey, Abbey Wick

Abstract: A major obstacle for optimal crop production in North Dakota originates from a natural wet cycle that mobilizes soluble salts, bringing them to the soil surface, decreasing land productivity. Subsurface tile drainage has gained tremendous popularity in eastern North Dakota for its effectiveness in removing detrimental soluble salts. With the installation of tile drainage, salts can be prevented from entering the root zone of the soil profile. The tile drainage intercepts the rising water table, conducting the soil water and its constituents into surface drainage networks that eventually merge with rivers and streams. Quantifying the amount of salt leached with a specific volume of water can provide important information on gauging the effectiveness of tile drainage on reducing soil salinity. Additionally, this data can provide important information on water quality effects of tile drainage in agricultural fields of North Dakota. The objectives of the study include: (i) to experimentally quantify the removal of soluble salts from tile drainage using large soil columns and multiple wetting and drying cycles, (ii) to numerically model the removal of salt from tile drainage using the numerical program HYDRUS-1D. that can simulate variably saturate water transfer and salt transport, and (iii) to develop a tool using experimental and model results that would help producers gauge the effectiveness of tile drainage in removing soluble salts, and the time to recuperate a return in their investment.