Food production per capita

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The world having a turn down in food production per capita and the growing global demand for food make it essential to produce solution for maximum consumption of available resources and improve crops to triumph over this problem. In many arid and semi arid regions, good soils are scarce with their overall productivity declining because of soil degradation and lack of proper soil and water management practices. Salt-affected soils, which are widespread in arid, semi-arid and coastal regions of sub-humid areas, have low productivity.

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There are 380 million hectares of saline soils on earth’s land surface, and of these 140 million hectares are highly saline and have higher electrical conductivity (EC). Food production in many parts of the world is severely affected by high salt contents in soils. In southern Asia and the Near East, for example, several million hectares of agricultural area are affected by salinity (e.g. 6.3 million ha in Pakistan, 2.5 million ha in India) causing losses in food production, excessive runoff due to compaction of saline soils and progressive desertification. It is estimated that nearly 10 % of the total land of the world used for crop production is adversely affected by soil salinity.

The major solutes comprising the dissolved mineral salts that affect soil fertility are the cations Na+, K+, Ca++, Mg++ and anions Cl-, SO4–, HCO33-and SIO32-. Normally, salt-affected soils often occur under natural conditions. Salinity problems of greatest importance in agricultural areas arise when previously fertile, productive soils become salinized as a result of irrigation.

Salinity and crop production

Salinity is increasingly important constraint to crop production worldwide (Ghassemi et al., 1995) regardless of the cause (ion toxicity, water deficit and nutritional imbalance) high salinity in the root zone severely impeded normal plant growth and development, resulting in reduced crop productivity or crop failure. The main effect of salinity on plant growth and crop production are:

  • Slow and insufficient germination of seeds.
  • Physiological drought, wilting, desiccation of plant.
  • Stunted growth, reduce branching.
  • Retarded flowering, fewer flowers, sterility and small seed.
  • Low yield of seed and other plant parts.

Prevention and reclamation of soil salinity

Different measures are taken to reclaim the saline land which includes physical, chemical and biological.

Physical methods of land reclamation:

The proper solution of salinity and water-logging is through engineering technology i.e. proper drainage system of all agricultural land. This technology has been used in Pakistan at national level to control salinity by draining the soil salt through a network of surface and subsurface drain and tube wells.

Chemical Method of Land reclamation:

Although reclamation of salt-affected soils by chemical means is an established technology,

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