After multiple years of production trials, researchers with the University of California Cooperative Extension have found that alfalfa can still be produced effectively using irrigation water with high salinity. The UC Westside Salinity Yield Trial is evaluating salinity resistance of multiple varieties of alfalfa.
“We’re into the salinity trial a couple of years and…we’ve been able to grow the crop under very high saline conditions successfully and look for variety resistances under those conditions,” said Statewide Alfalfa and Forage Extension Specialist Dan Putnam.
The trials employ multiple types of irrigation systems using high and low salinity water for comparison purposes. “That work is going on in Fresno County, and in an area where we have EC levels on the range of eight to 11. This is a very salty type water and we’ve been able to show that watering with those types of high saline waters decreases the yield but only by about 10 or 15 percent and it’s still viable to produce under those conditions,” Putnam noted.