Review of Soil Salinity and Sodicity Challenges to Crop Production in the Lowland Irrigated Areas of Ethiopia and Its Management Strategies
Ethiopia’s irrigated agriculture productivity has been threatened by severe salinity and sodicity problems which have resulted in significantly lower yields, food insecurity, and environmental degradation. The destructive effects of poor irrigation water management with the absence of drainage and anticipated future climate changes can accelerate the formation of salt-affected soil, potentially expanding the problem to currently unaffected regions. This paper synthesizes the available information on the causes, extent, and effects of salt-affected soils on soil and crop production and suggests chemical, biological, and physical reclamation and management approaches for tackling salinity and sodicity problems. The mitigation approaches (e.g., the addition of amendments, plantation of salt-tolerant crops, appropriate irrigation and drainage management, phytoremediation, and bioremediation) have successfully tackled soil salinity and sodicity problems in many parts of the world. These approaches have further improved the socioeconomic conditions of farming communities in salt-affected areas. The paper also discusses the effectiveness of these mitigation strategies under Ethiopian conditions. The policy interventions for reclamation of soil salinity and sodicity that indicate future research attention to restoring agricultural sustainability are also foci of this paper.