New study flags critical knowledge gaps in global soil salinity research
A recent study by an international team of scientists, including Dr. Asad Sarwar Qureshi, a senior scientist in water and irrigation management at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), has shed light on a number of critical knowledge gaps and priorities in global soil salinity research.
Published in Advances in Agronomy, a book series, the study led by the University of California, Davis reviews the status of global soil salinity research and analyzes the progress in combating soil salinization in different parts of the world.
In particular the study singles out ten priorities in global soil salinity research such as, among others, the need for soil salinity mapping; the need for a broader understanding of physiological mechanisms for adaptation to saline soils; the application of remote sensing to detect and map soil salinity; the need for better knowledge of the combined and interactive effects of drought and salinity stress; and the reassessment of crop salt tolerance.
Moreover, the authors offer recommendations to tackle the impact of soil salinization on agriculture. For example, they note that it is important to cross advanced breeding lines in field conditions for a range of salinity and water deficit levels to find more salt-tolerant crop species.
The study also calls for accelerating efforts to breed improved crop varieties with resistance to salinity as soil salinization has been on the rise. Approximately 1 billion hectares of land is estimated to be affected by salinity and sodicity worldwide to varying degrees. And roughly 30 percent of the world’s irrigated areas are salinized.
The study presents case studies from different countries, including Australia, China and Pakistan, as well as specific examples from the Indo-Gangetic basin, Nile basin, Euphrates and Tigris basin, among others.
The case studies illustrate the progress in addressing the impact of soil salinization and discuss the main causes of the problem. They also list measures necessary to reduce land degradation due to salinization.
The study gives detailed insights into the extent of soil salinity around the world and presents an outlook for its impact on food security.
It warns that the reduced availability of freshwater resources, the continued decrease in agricultural land, climate change, and other factors could exacerbate food insecurity in the world’s salt-affected areas.
Overall, the study adds to the growing body of research on global soil salinity and aims to draw attention to the risks of failure to mitigate its impact. It also urges the allocation of more funding to develop innovative solutions to address the impact of soil salinity.