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Clyde Wilson, Xuan Liu, Scott M. Lesch, and Donald L. Suarez

Over the last several years, there has been increasing interest in amending the soil using cover crops, especially in desert agriculture. One cover crop of interest in the desert Coachella Valley of California is cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.]. Cowpea is particularly useful in that as an excellent cover crop, fixing abundant amounts of nitrogen which can reduce fertilizer costs. However, soil salinity problems are of increasing concern in the Coachella Valley of California where the Colorado River water is a major source of irrigation water. Unfortunately, little information is available on the response of cowpea growth to salt stress. Thus, we investigated the growth response of 12 major cowpea cultivars (`CB5', `CB27', `CB46', `IT89KD-288', `IT93K-503-1', `Iron Clay', `Speckled Purple Hall', `UCR 134', `UCR 671', `UCR 730', `8517', and `7964') to increasing salinity levels. The experiment was set up as a standard Split Plot design. Seven salinity levels ranging from 2.6 to 20.1 dS·m–1 were constructed, based on Colorado River water salt composition, to have NaCl, CaCl2 and MgSO4 as the salinization salts. The osmotic potential ranged from –0.075 to –0.82 MPa. Salt stress began 7 days after planting by adding the salts into irrigating nutrient solution and ended after 5 consecutive days. The plants were harvested during flowering period for biomass measurement (53 days after planting). Data analysis using SAS analysis of variance indicated that the salinity in the range between 2.6 and 20.1 dS·m–1 significantly reduced leaf area, leaf dry weight, stem dry weight and root dry weight (P ≤ 0.05). We applied the data to a salt-tolerance model, log(Y) = a1 + a2X + a3X2, where Y represents biomass, a1, a2 and a3 are empirical constants, and X represents salinity, and found that the model accounted for 99%, 97%, 96%, 99%, and 96% of salt effect for cowpea shoot, leaf area, leaf dry weight, stem dry weight and root dry weight, respectively. We also found significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) of each biomass parameter among the 12 cultivars and obtained different sets of the empirical constants to quantitatively describe the response of each biomass parameter to salinity for individual cowpea cultivars. Since a significant salt × cultivar interaction effect (P ≤ 0.05) was found on leaf area and leaf dry weight, we concluded that salt tolerance differences exist among the tested cultivars.

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Michael C. Shannon, Catherine M. Grieve, Scott M. Lesch, and John H. Draper

Saline agricultural drainage water may be used as a resource to grow high value horticultural crops and reduce the volume of drainage for eventual disposal. To explore reuse options the effects of salinity and timing of application were tested on selected leafy vegetables grown in 24 sand culture plots in Riverside, Calif. The leafy winter vegetables included `Ruby Red Chard' Swiss chard [Beta vulgaris L. var. flavescens (Lam.) Lam.], `Space' spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), `Vitamin Green' salad greens [Brassica rapa L. (Narinosa Group)], `Red Giant' mustard greens [Brassica juncea L. (Czerniak)], pac choi [Brassica rapa L. (Chinensis Group)], `Winterbor' kale [Brassica oleracea L. (Acephala Group)], tatsoi [Brassica rapa L. (Narinosa Group)], `Salad King' curly endive (Cichorium endivia L.), and `Red Preco No. 1' radicchio (Cichorium intybus L.). All vegetables were planted at the same time and irrigated initially with tap water and nutrients. At 3 and 7 weeks after seeding (application times), six salinity treatments were initiated by adding salts to the irrigation water to represent the chemical compositions of drainage waters found typically in the San Joaquin Valley, Calif. The six salinity treatments had electrical conductivities of 3 (control), 7, 11, 15, 19, or 23 dS·m-1. A randomized complete block design was used with (6 salinities × 2 application times × 2 replications). Within each plot a 1.5-m row of each of the nine vegetables was grown as split plots. Salinity reduced fresh weight (FW) yields of all species. Salt stress applied at 3 weeks after seeding reduced FWs for seven of the nine vegetables compared to salination at 7 weeks. Analyses of salt tolerance curves, maximum yields, and the point of 50% yield reduction (C50) were conducted. Greens produced the highest biomass at 874 g/plant, but was the most affected by application time. Swiss chard and radicchio were not significantly affected by timing of salinity application, and Swiss chard was the most salt tolerant overall. Greens, kale, pac choi, and to a lesser extent, tatsoi, have potential as winter-grown, leafy vegetables in drainage water reuse systems.