The global changes in rainfall frequency and quantity have subjected arid and semi-arid regions to long periods of drought. As this phenomenon corresponds to increasing trend of water shortage, the use of treated wastewater (TWW) has been suggested as an alternative for irrigation of agricultural crops in these areas. The aim of the study was to investigate the short- and middle-term effects of TWW irrigation on the soil microbial activities and organic carbon content. The microbial community activity was measured every 1-3 months for 4 years in a persimmon (Diospyros kaki) orchard. These activities were used here as an indicator for the soil health. The hydrolysis activity (detected by fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis (FDA) assay) increased during the irrigation season and was significantly higher in soils irrigated with TWW compared to those irrigated with freshwater (FW). This activity was also negatively correlated with dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations during the irrigation season, suggesting that the community degraded the DOC in the soils regardless of its origin. The irrigation season was also characterized by an increase in nitrification potential in both TWW- and FW-irrigated soils, which coincided with high concentrations of nitrate (50 mg kg(-1) soil). Overall, there was an increase in all measured activities during the irrigation season, and they were higher in the TWW soils. However, it appears that after each irrigation season, the potential activity of the community returned to levels similar to or even slightly lower than those of FW-irrigated soil during the wet season, suggesting that the periodic irrigation did not significantly change the soil microbial activity.
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