Crop response to combined availability of soil water and its salinity level: Theory, experiments and validation on golf courses

Jiftah Ben-Asher, Jose Beltrao, Gulom Bekmirzaev, Thomas Panagopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The phenomenological expression showing crop yield to be directly dependent on water deficiency, under saline conditions, has encouraged a continued focus on salinity as a viable approach to increase crop yields. This work reassesses crop response to availability of saline soil water ASW in two stages (A) Develop a simple approach suggesting that permanent wilting point (WP) increases under high saline soil water tension and relative yield of Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L., var longifolia Lam., cv. Nevada) and maize (Zea Mays L., cv. Jubilee sweet) decrease. (B) Using a deterministic numerical soil water model to validate the theory on Bermuda grass of golf courses. The experimental plots were established in the North Negev, Israel (Sweet corn) and the Algarve, Portugal (Lettuce and Bermuda grass covering the golf courses). Sprinkler irrigation and line source techniques were used for water application, creating a saline gradient under a precise irrigation water distribution. Two salinity empirical models were tested (Mass and Hoffman MH and van Genuchten–Gupta vGG). Their empirical models were modified and instead of soil electrical conductivity of irrigation water (ECe) we used wilting point (WP) and RASW to follow the changes in relative yield. The validation was conducted with theoretical soil plant atmosphere water (SPAW) to predict the results on golf courses. It is concluded that an alternative S-shaped response model provides better fit to our experimental data sets. Modified MH model (Yr = Y/Ymax = a* (ASW– threshold’s constant) revealed that a single dimensionless curve could be used to express yield— salinity interference when represented by varying ASW. The vGG model: vGG can represent salt tolerance of most crops, by using varying wilting point of average root zone salinity, at which the yield has declined by 50%. The abscissa of both models was based on WP rather than the standard soil electrical conductivity (ECw). The correlation between the experimental data and WP or relative available soil water (RASW) was acceptable and, therefore, their usefulness for prediction of relative yield is acceptable as well. The objectives of this study were: 1. To develop a simple model describing the effect of salinity through soil water availability on crop production; 2. To replace the standard varying soil electrical conductivity ECe used by MH and vGG models by two soil parameters (at wilting point-θwp and at field capacity ϴfc) in order to describe the relationship between them and relative yield. 3. Validate the new model with respect to independent salinity on Golf courses and a mathematical deterministic model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2012
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • ECe and saline soil water ECw
  • Relative yield
  • SPAW numerical model
  • Sprinkler irrigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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