A simple model is given, based on mass conservation of a non-transformed non-absorbed solute or ion (such as the chloride ion), which allows long term trends in the concentration of this solute to be predicted. The method involves solution of an implicit equation for the long term through-drainage flux below the maximum depth of sampling. A knowledge of the initial chloride ion concentration in the soil depth of interest, and its value after a known application via irrigation water provides sufficient information for the model to be applied. The model is applied to data from an irrigated slowly permeable swelling clay soil. A drainage flux of 8 cm yr−1 beneath paddy rice was inferred, and some twenty-five years after commencement of irrigation an equilibrium soil salinity of 22 meq/l at saturation was predicted.