Changes in soil redox potential in response to flood irrigation with waste water in central Mexico

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Gozalez-Mendez, B., Webster, R., Fiedler, S. and Siebe, C. 2017. Changes in soil redox potential in response to flood irrigation with waste water in central Mexico. European Journal of Soil Science. 68 (6), pp. 886-896.

AuthorsGozalez-Mendez, B., Webster, R., Fiedler, S. and Siebe, C.

Irrigation with untreated sewage water adds fresh organic matter to the soil. When it is applied by flooding, as in the Mezquital Valley of Mexico, many of the pores in the soil become temporarily waterlogged and depleted of oxygen, and reduction generates nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). We monitored the redox potential, Eh, in the soil at two sites in the Mezquital Valley to discover whether the short‐term gaseous emissions matched the changes in Eh. One site is irrigated periodically by flooding with waste water and has alfalfa, rye grass and maize grown in succession; the other site grows maize with water from summer rain only. Each electrode buried in the soil for the purpose produced sequences of measurements that were correlated in time. We modelled the correlation and took it into account to analyse the effects of the irrigation by residual maximum likelihood (reml). After each flooding, the redox potential under alfalfa and rye grass decreased by 150–200 mV from a norm of about 450 mV for 2 days, after which it returned to its norm. The short‐term response to flooding under maize was similar, but the redox potential did not recover completely; instead there was a decrease from one irrigation event to another, in particular as a result of heavy rain in September that saturated the soil. The soil under rain‐fed maize was slower to respond, partly, we believe, because infiltration into the less aggregated clay soil and drainage from it were also slow. Irrigation with untreated sewage water caused a sharp decrease in Eh lasting 1–2 days. It seems to have depleted the soil of oxygen, causing reduction in microhabitats rich in carbon and nitrogen and generation of N2O, which was captured in the closed chambers that we had installed. 

Year of Publication2017
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Journal citation68 (6), pp. 886-896
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or codeDGAPA-PaPIIT programme
Project: IN113307-3
Project: 23496
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online20 Oct 2017
Publication process dates
Accepted18 Aug 2017

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