Evaluating management-induced soil salinization in golf courses in semi-arid landscapes
Abstract. Site-specific information on land management practices are often desired to make better assessments of their environmental impacts. A study was conducted in Lubbock, Texas, in the Southern High Plains of the United States, an area characterized by semi-arid climatic conditions, to (1) examine the potential management-induced alterations in soil salinity indicators in golf course facilities and (2) develop predictive relationships for a more rapid soil salinity examination within these urban landscape soils using findings from a portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) spectrometer. Soil samples were collected from managed (well irrigated) and non-managed (non-irrigated) areas of seven golf course facilities at 0–10, 10–20, and 20–30 cm depths and analyzed for a suite of chemical properties. Among the extractable cations, sodium (Na) was significantly (p < 0.05) higher in the managed zones of all the golf facilities. Soil electrical conductivity (EC), exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP), and sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), parameters often used in characterizing soil salinity and sodicity, were for the most part significantly (p < 0.05) higher in the managed areas. Water quality reports collected over a 22-year period (1991–2013, all years not available) indicated a gradual increase in pH, EC, SAR, total alkalinity, and extractable ions, thus supporting the former findings. Findings from the PXRF suggested possible differences in chemical species and sources that contribute to salinity between the managed and non-managed zones. PXRF-quantified Cl and S, and to a lesser extent Ca, individually and collectively explained 23–85% of the variability associated with soil salinity at these facilities.