The effect of brackish water irrigation on the above- and below-ground development of pollarded Acacia saligna shrubs in an arid environment

Marisol Eggleton, Walter Zegada-Lizarazu, Jhonathan Ephrath, Pedro Berliner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Scopus citations


    The regrowth capacity after pollarding of a short-rotation plantation of Acacia saligna (Labill.) H. Wendl. was investigated in a field trial. This shrub has been proposed as a provider of biomass (fuelwood and fodder) in an arid environment, using local marginal water resources such as surface runoff and brackish groundwater. The specific objective of this study was to examine the effects of water quality, irrigation frequency and annual runoff flooding onthe above- and belowground development of the pollarded shrubs. Treatments consisted of drip-irrigation with freshwater or brackish water, at low (twice a month) or high (weekly) frequency, with or without annual freshwater flooding, and on a well-watered basis (twice a week) without flooding. Each 15×5 m 2 plot contained four rows of four shrubs. After 5 years of growth, the shrubs were pollarded to a height of 1.5 m and during the subsequent year of regrowth, root development was monitored non-destructively using the minirhizotron, shoot growth was estimated from trunk cross-sectional area and allometric equations (obtained at the end of the measuring period by measurements and destructive sampling), and plant water status was monitored by measuring pre-dawn leaf water potential. Dry fodder (leaves and thin branches) production was between 3.50 and 9.75 t ha-1 and dry wood was between 3.50 and 15.50 t ha-1. The highest biomass production was obtained in the well-watered freshwater treatment, which also had the highest number of roots and highest predawn leaf water potential throughout the year. Shrubs irrigated with brackish water at low frequency without supplemental flooding produced the lowest yields. Water quality significantly affected shoot development only in the well-watered treatments although root development was reduced wherever brackish water was applied. Flooding the plots with freshwater once a year led to an increase in the number of roots outside the drip-irrigation zone, especially in brackish water treatments. A continued root growth with time was observed in all treatments even though the shoots were pollarded. In fact total root increments and aboveground biomass production were positively linearly related. Moreover the linear response of shoot and root increments to increasing water availability and not to water quality suggests that irrigation frequency was the main factor determining the regrowth capacity and amount of above- and belowground biomass production. Based on the above, runoff water and brackish groundwater could be used in a complementary manner for the sustainable production of fuelwood and fodder in a short-rotation plantation of this shrub.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)141-152
    Number of pages12
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Issue number1-2
    StatePublished - 1 Oct 2007


    • Firewood
    • Fodder
    • Regrowth
    • Short-rotation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Soil Science
    • Plant Science


    Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of brackish water irrigation on the above- and below-ground development of pollarded Acacia saligna shrubs in an arid environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this