A key issue for agriculture in irrigated arid lands is the control of soil salinity, and this is one of the goals for irrigated districts when changing from flood to sprinkling irrigation. We combined soil sampling, proximal electromagnetic induction, and satellite data to appraise how soil salinity and its distribution along a previously flood-irrigated field evolved after its transformation to sprinkling. We also show that the relationship between NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) and ECe (electrical conductivity of the soil saturation extracts) mimics the production function between yield and soil salinity. Under sprinkling, the field had a double crop of barley and then sunflower in 2009 and 2011. In both years, about 50% of the soil of the entire studied field-45 ha-had ECe < 8 dS m-1, i.e., allowing barley cultivation, while the percent of surface having ECe ≥ 16 dS m-1 increased from 8.4% in 2009 to 13.7% in 2011. Our methodology may help monitor the soil salinity oscillations associated with irrigation management. After quantifying and mapping the soil salinity in 2009 and 2011, we show that barley was stunted in places of the field where salinity was higher. Additionally, the areas of salinity persisted after the subsequent alfalfa cropping in 2013. Application of differential doses of water to the saline patches is a viable method to optimize irrigation water distribution and lessen soil salinity in sprinkler-irrigated agriculture.
Keywords: NDVI; barley; electromagnetic induction sensor; remote sensing.