Water distribution pattern in treated wastewater irrigated soils: Hydrophobicity effect

J. Tarchitzky, O. Lerner, U. Shani, G. Arye, A. Lowengart-Aycicegi, A. Brener, Y. Chen

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93 Scopus citations


The shortage of fresh water (FW) in Israel and other semiarid regions has forced farmers to significantly expand the use of treated wastewater (TWW). Recently, farmers utilizing reclaimed wastewater (TWW) reported a unique type of water distribution regime in drip-irrigated soils, as follows: (i) limited wetted area on the soil surface; and (ii) small saturated areas around and below the dripper, in TWW irrigated soil as opposed to an even, onion-like wet profile, formed under fresh water (FW) irrigation. Following this observation in the field and after conducting preliminary tests in the laboratory, we hypothesized that TWW irrigation introduces water-repellent organic constituents into the soil. Tests characterizing the water distribution showed the diameter of the saturated area on the soil surface and its water content (at a depth of 0-10 cm) was smaller with TWW than with FW irrigation. The TWW accumulated on the soil surface in small lenses and then flowed rapidly into the ground. The repellency of soils irrigated with FW and TWW was measured with the water drop penetration time test. Soils irrigated with FW were hydrophilic, whereas those irrigated with TWW exhibited hydrophobicity. Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy (FTIR) and 13C-NMR analyses of organic components extracted from the soils with organic solvents indicated differences in composition only at a depth of 0-2 cm. Extracting soils with a methanol + chloroform (1:1, by volume) mixture was found to be very effective in the removal and extraction of hydrophobic aliphatic components from soils irrigated with TWW.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-588
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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