Nature, Properties and Management of Saline and Alkali Soils
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PREFACE History reveals that civilization began in a environm ent o f irrigation agriculture and the downfall o f civilization was determined by water logging and salinity. Salinity is the m ajor and ever present threat to the perm anence o f irrigation agriculture. Unless salinity is controlled, productivity decreases, land value drops, and in several cases, the land is completely abandoned. Salt-affected soils and saline irrigation waters are widespread in several countries o f the world and present a serious problem o f im mense practical im portance for crop production in view o f their peculiar inhospitable characteristics for plant growth despite inherent potentialities. The nature o f the problem is such that it restricts economic utilization o f land and water resources thus adversely affecting crop production especially in the semi-arid and arid conditions. Faced with the dilemma o f salt-affected soils and waters for a long time, mankind considered such soils as uncultivable wastelands and confined their energies to better soils and waters. This is notably the case as sodic-alkalization which hinders agricultural production or even makes it im possible on otherwise fertile areas and on areas being important from the view point o f farming. Because o f the food shortage besetting mankind in various parts o f world, man is now forced to find ways and means o f utilizing salt-affected soils and saline waters. Realizing the fact that geographical area cannot be expanded and that enhancem ent o f productivity o f crops grown on good soils and waters is possible only to a limited extent, there is worldwide demographic pressure to attempt to cultivate all hitherto barren salt-affected soils and to make efficient use o f saline irrigation waters. Efforts of the soil scientists, agronomists, plant physiologists and agricultural engineers have been a foot to diagnose and rectify the limps and shrinks o f salt-affected soils and saline waters, all over the world. The accurate and precise adoption o f reclamative and management m easures is very important because the right and useful treatm ent accruing practical results depend on that. The available knowledge has to be applied in practice in right perspective speedily and research has to be continued steadily to restore the productivity o f salt-affected soils and soils irrigated with saline water. An objective portrayal o f the true state o f art in the reclam ation and m anagem ent o f salt-affected soils and prevention o f salinization in the saline water irrigated lands, is an equally challenging task. The resultant knowledge emerged out o f the research has conclusively proved that salt-affected soils can be usefully reclaimed and managed to obtain potentially good crop yields. Saline irrigation water resources can be better utilized by giving due consideration to the whole com plex o f soil water plant relationship in a particular agro-clim atic zone. The knowledge and experience gained in one country can be translated into useful practice in another country with similar problem and agro-climatic conditions. It is with this objective that the available management technologies in the world has been brought together in this monograph. The text will be perceived by the astute readers as some what uneven in its treatments o f respective chapters. We feel that this is to certain extent appropriate, for it thus portrays the unevenness o f progress to date in the corresponding areas o f research.
G.L. MALIWAL L.L. SOMANI
CONTENTS Chapter 1 Introduction and Historical Development