Pedosphere 24(6): 753--762, 2014
ISSN 1002-0160/CN 32-1315/P
©2014 Soil Science Society of China
Published by Elsevier B.V. and Science Press
Variability of soil salinity at multiple spatio-temporal scales and the related driving factors in the oasis areas of Xinjiang, China
ZHANG Wen-Tai1, WU Hong-Qi1, GU Hai-Bin1, FENG Guang-Long2, WANG Ze1 and SHENG Jian-Dong1
1College of Grassland and Environmental Sciences, Xinjiang Agricultural University, Ürümqi 830052 (China)
2State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ürümqi 830011 (China)
      Located in the inland arid area of central Asia, salt-affected farmlands take up one third of the total irrigated land area in Xinjiang of Northwest China. Spatio-temporal variability of soil salinity and the underlying mechanism are fundamental problems challenging the sustainability of oasis agriculture in China. In this study, the data of total dissolved solids (TDS) measured for soil samples collected from 27 representative study areas in the oasis areas of Xinjiang were analyzed and the coefficient of variation (CV) and stratification ratio (SR) of TDS were used to describe the lateral and vertical soil salinity variations, respectively. Weekly, monthly, and annual changes in soil salinity were also summarized. Results showed that the top (0–20 cm) soil salinity was highly variable (CV > 75%) for most studied areas. Lateral variation of soil salinity was significantly correlated with the sampling interval; as a result, a maximum sampling interval of 0.9 m was found for reducing evaluation uncertainty. The top 0–20 cm soil salt accounted for about 25.2% of the total salt in the 0–100 cm soil profile. The stratification ratio values (the ratio of TDS at the 20–40 cm depth to that at the 0–20 cm depth) were mostly smaller than 1 and on average 0.92, illustrating that the top 0–20 cm soil contained slightly more salt and a considerable amount of salt still existed in subsurface and deep horizons. Irrigation reduced top soil salinity by 0.52 g kg-1, or 14.6%, within the first week. On average, the relative range of soil salinity, calculated to indicate monthly changes in soil salinity, was 58.2% from May to September. A 27-year experiment indicated that cultivation increased soil salinity by 44.4% at a rate of 0.14 g kg-1 year-1. At small spatio-temporal scales, soil salinity variation was mainly affected by anthropogenic factors, such as irrigation and land use. However, natural factors, including groundwater, topography, and climate conditions, mainly influenced soil salinity variation at large spatio-temporal scales. This study displayed the highly variable nature of soil salinity in space and time. Those driving factors identified in this study could provide guidelines for developing sustainable agriculture in the oasis areas and combating salinization in arid regions of China.
Key Words:  coefficient of variation, cultivation, irrigation, salinization, stratification ratio, sustainable agriculture, total dissolved solids
Citation: Zhang, W. T., Wu, H. Q., Gu, H. B., Feng, G. L., Wang, Z. and Sheng, J. D. 2014. Variability of soil salinity at multiple spatio-temporal scales and the related driving factors in the oasis areas of Xinjiang, China. Pedosphere. 24(6): 753-762.
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