IWA Publishing

Prospects of desalination for irrigation water in the Sultanate of Oman


Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The most limiting factor for the agricultural sector in the Sultanate of Oman is a lack of water, and security of supply in terms of both quantity and quality. Salinization of both soils and groundwater systems along the coastal strip of Al-Batinah has placed a substantial burden on farmers regarding crop selection and, therefore, farm profitability. Desalination of brackish and seawaters might be an attractive option to sustain salt-affected lands in the Sultanate, particularly given that recent advances in desalination technologies have reduced energy and running cost requirements. This review is a summary of the international experience on desalination for irrigation water; the opportunities and challenges of the use of this technology for sustaining agriculture in arid environments; and the outcome of a survey that explores the extent of the use of desalination for providing irrigation water on the Al-Batinah coast, Oman. The main challenges for adopting this technology for agriculture are the initial cost of desalination units and the cost of environmentally sustainable disposal of reject water. However, there is a need for more applied research efforts to minimize the detrimental impact of disposal of reject water on the environment, long-term impact of desalinated water on agricultural soils as well as cost and benefit analysis of the technology.

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