Israel Journal of Plant Sciences Vol. 59 2011 p. 93 DOI: 10.1560/IJPS.59.2-4.93 Shortage of water in arid and semiarid regions throughout the world restricts the availabil- ity of fresh water for agricultural irrigation. In order to facilitate the agricultural production volumes required to satisfy local population needs, production systems have to rely on utilization of marginal water for irrigation. Due to their availability and relatively low cost, treated effluents are becoming the main source of alternative marginal water for agricul - tural irrigation and are utilized today for irrigation in almost all arid regions of the world. The treated effluents differ from the potable water from which they are derived by a range of chemical and physical characteristics. They contain higher levels of potentially plant-damaging substances such as boron, Na, Cl, bicarbonate, and heavy metals, and have higher organic matter content, electrical conductivity, and pH values. Irrigation with treated effluents may therefore have detrimental effects on the irrigated crops. Treated effluents used for agricultural irrigation also contain higher levels of microorganisms, including human pathogenic bacteria, than potable water. Human pathogens from the soil or the ir- rigation water may become associated with the plant surface, as well as penetrate internal plant tissues via the root, and translocate and survive inside plants. Irrigation with this water may therefore impose a risk of direct contamination of crops by human pathogens present in the water, as well as indirect contamination of crops through contaminated soil at the agricultural sites. Long-term irrigation with treated effluent containing higher levels of sodium adsorption ratio, salinity, suspended solids, and dissolved organic matter compared with the potable water of origin, may also affect structure stability and hydraulic properties of the irrigated soil. In order to facilitate safe and efficient long term utilization of the treated effluents for agricultural irrigation, many countries have developed guidelines and regulations for their purification, application in production fields, and dispersal. Many successful and safe agricultural production systems that utilize treated effluents for irrigation have been de - veloped for a range of crops, water qualities, and environmental conditions, and are in use throughout the world. This issue of the Israel Journal of Plant Sciences presents results in various aspects of effluent utilization for modern agriculture – from risk assessment to effects on commercial production and the environment from different countries. I thank the authors of this volume for their contributions and cooperation. I also wish to acknowledge the constructive comments and suggestions of the reviewers, which have helped to shape the present volume. Nirit Bernstein Institute of Soil Water and Environmental Sciences Agricultural Research Organization The Volcani Center Beit Dagan, Israel
Israel Journal of Plant Sciences – Brill
Published: May 18, 2011
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