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The success story of irrigation against salinity in Violada, NE Spain

Herrero, Juan, Castañeda, Carmen
Land degradation & development 2018 v.29 no.9 pp. 3039-3049
drainage, flooded conditions, gypsum, irrigated farming, irrigation, saline soils, salinity, semiarid zones, soil salinization, Spain
In the early 20th century, when extensive areas of land were transformed from rainfed to irrigated agriculture, there was a severe lack of scientific and technical literature available on the effects of applying water to saline soils. This was the case of the Violada Irrigation District located in a semiarid region of NE Spain whose transformation started in the 1940s. We discuss the use of agronomical expertise and the limited knowledge of soils available prior to the transformation, the favorable and unfavorable scenarios encountered during the transformation, and the final success of irrigation despite the initial soil salinization and water logging. We attribute the technical success to the fact that gypsum is common in the soils and geological materials, and to the continued drainage efforts. Failures in the irrigation of saline lands are a frequent subject of discussion in the scientific literature; contrariwise, we present the history of a successfully irrigated district after 70 years.