Rio Grande Basin Initiative

2008-09 Deliverables

Task 5 Research
Principal Investigator(s): Genhua Niu

  1. Evaluate the relative salt tolerance of selected annual flowering plants. As potable water supply is decreasing, many municipalities encourage use of reclaimed water, which has high salt levels, to irrigate landscape plants. Also, soil salinity increases when irrigation is practiced in arid and semi-arid regions. In the previous years, we have identified a list of plant species that can be grown under hot and dry desert environment. The response of these “top-performer” annual plants to a range of salinity of irrigation water will be examined and evaluated. Relative salt tolerance of the tested plants will be characterized and threshold of salinity for each species will be recommended.
  2. Determine the minimum water requirement of selected annual and perennial species. In order to improve irrigation efficiency, the actual water requirement to maintain healthy appearance needs to be determined for landscape plants. The actual water use of selected annual and perennial species will be determined by irrigating with different percentages of evapotranspiration (ET) and their performance under drought conditions will be compared using the field raised beds.
  3. Evaluate the salt tolerance of two native woody species. Two native woody species, Texas Maintain Laurel and Mexican Redbud are drought tolerant, popular shrubs or small trees for urban landscape.  However, the response of these species to elevated salinity remains unknown. A greenhouse study will be conducted to determine the salt tolerance by irrigating with saline solutions at various salinity levels. Plant growth, physiological responses and leachate salinity will be quantified; thereby the salinity threshold will be determined.
  4. Information Transfer Activities and Publications. Results will be published through technical reports and peer reviewed journals, and discussed with local and regional stakeholders for outreach. Oral or poster presentations will be delivered at professional and regional meetings. Appropriate fact sheets or guidelines will be prepared for extension personnel on drought and salt tolerance of tested plant species and their irrigation recommendations.
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