Potential of Using Red Sea Water for Irrigation of Food and Pasture Crops

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El Daw Mohammed, El Hadi
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The Red sea zone is a unique arid environment, with the population severely, poverty stricken in most areas. Humans and animal alike face freshwater scarcity, food shortage and malnutrition. As possibility is remote for providing food in the area using fresh water, an experiment was carried out to appraise the possibility of using Red sea water instead. The experiment was carried out in faculty of agriculture (University of Khartoum). Three types of plants which are known to be tolerant to saline water were selected for this study: Barely (Horedum Vulgare.L), purslane (Portulaca oleraceae), and bermuda grass (Cyndon dactylon). Two experiments were carried out, the first a laboratory experiment to test the effect of salinity on seed germination and the second a pot experiment for studying the effect of salinity on plant growth. For studying germination filter papers on Petri dishes were wetted by Red Sea water mixed with freshwater at different EC levels ranging from 0.4 to 34.4 dSm-1. The dishes were arranged in completely randomized deign (CRD).For the pot experiment the split plot design was chosen for the study of the effect of salinity of irrigation water on plants growth for two seasons. Different levels of mixed water were assigned the main plots and the two types of soil (sandy soil and loamy sand soil) the subplots; each treatment was replicated three times. Layouts were similar in two growing seasons (winter and summer seasons). The germination test experiment showed that seeds germinated at mixed water levels having EC 31.8 dSm-1, 19.3 dSm-1 and 19.3 dSm-1 for barely, purslane and bermuda, respectively, but the seeds failed to germinate at mixed water levels having EC 34.4 dSm-1, 21.6 dSm-1 and 21.6 dSm-1 that for barely, purslane and bermuda, respectively. The pot experiment showed that the plants grow satisfactorily up to EC 19.3 dSm-1, 19.3 dSm-1 and 28.7 dSm-1 for barely, V bermuda and purslane, respectively, but barely and bermuda were very poor at EC 28.7 dSm-1. It has been found that plant seed germination and plant growth significantly (P > 0.01) decreased with increased Red sea water in the irrigation water depending on the type of plant. Comparison between effects of soil on plant growth irrigated with saline water showed that soil type had a highly significant effect (P > 0.01). The loamy sand soils supported taller plants with higher dry and fresh weights than those grown on sandy soils. However all plants were taller in winter as compared to summer season, but, fresh weight of purslane and bermuda was higher in summer, contrary that of barely which was higher in winter. The experiment showed significant increase (P > 0.01) in soil ECe and SAR when the salinity of irrigation water was raised; however, the soil pH recorded was less than 8. No significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) were observed between soil types with respect to ECe and SAR. This study recommended blending Rea sea water with freshwater for irrigation of some food and forage crops on the coarse-textured soils near Red sea basin.