Environmental Effects of Irrigation in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions

Alicia Fernández-Cirelli1, José Luis Arumí2, Diego Rivera2, and Peter W. Boochs3
This article reviews the state of the art with respect to the environmental effects of irrigated agriculture on water and soil quality in arid and semi-arid regions on a field scale. Information is scarce and fragmentary. Examples in selected areas of other arid and semi-arid regions in the world clearly show the importance of studying the environmental impact of irrigation practices on water and soil quality. Studies mainly refer to waterlogging and salinization. As regards agrochemicals, fertilizers have been taken into account through nitrate leaching. The impact of micropollutants such as pesticides and heavy metals on water and soil quality is studied mainly by modeling. Pharmaceutical compounds emerge as pollutants when wastewater is used for irrigation without any previous treatment, situation which is now the object of new studies. There is an obvious need to study in-depth knowledge related to appropriate technologies for the use, treatment, and reuse of wastewater which is a valuable resource in arid and semi-arid regions.
Keywords: irrigation, water quality, soil quality, agrochemicals, micropollutants
1Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Centro de Estudios Transdisciplinarios del Agua, Av. Chorroarin 280, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina (afcirelli@fvet.uba.ar)
2Universidad de Concepción, Facultad de Ingeniería Agrícola, Departamento de Recursos Hídricos, Av. Vicente Méndez 595, Chillán, Chile (jarumi@udec.cl)
3Institute of Water Resources Management, Hydrology and Agricultural Hydraulic Engineering (WAWI), Leibniz University of Hannover, Appelstr. 9A, 30167 Hannover, Germany (boochs@iww.uni-hannover.de)