Salinity: Effects on Soil, Plants, and Environment

Soil salinity is an environmental stress affecting agriculture globally, substantially reducing cultivated land area, crop productivity, and quality. Farmers can keep salinity problems in check by using fertilizer products with  low salt index levels such as Fertoz-Phos. Fertoz-Phos has the lowest salt index among several fertilizer sources.

Salt Index of Phosphate Fertilizers
Highly soluble fertilizers have a higher salt index.

Reduces Plant Water Extraction

Plants are sensitive to salinity. Once dissolved in soil, salt concentrations in the soil solution are increased making it more difficult for the plant to extract required water from the soil.

Higher Nutrient Losses

Highly soluble fertilizers are also more susceptible to leaching and run-off, lowering the total phosphate content in soil.

Yield Reductions

It is widely recognized by soil scientists that soil salinity reduces crop yield.  Salinity not only decreases the agricultural production of most crops, but also, effects soil physicochemical properties, and ecological balance of the area. The impacts of salinity include—low agricultural productivity, low economic returns and soil erosions (Hu and Schmidhalter, 2002).

Suppressed Growth

All stages of crop development are affected by salinity including germination, vegetative growth and reproductive development.

Effects of Salinity

  • Increased osmotic stress
  • Ion toxicity (Cl, B, Na)
  • Seed burning and damage
  • Nutritional deficiencies and imbalances
  • Reduce phosphorus uptake
  • Poor soil health and structure
  • Reduced photosynthesis
  • Oxidative stress
  • Limited plant water uptake
  • Lower crop productivity
  • Soil erosion
  • Low economic return

Sources of Salinity

All soils contain some water soluble salts, which are essential in low concentrations. Excessive accumulation affects plant growth and soil quality.

  • Weathering soil minerals
  • Irrigation water
  • Synthetic fertilizers

References

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Hu Y., Schmidhalter U. Limitation of salt stress to plant growth. In: Hock B., Elstner C.F., editors. Plant Toxicology. Marcel Dekker Inc.; New York: 2002. pp. 91–224.

Jamil A., Riaz S., Ashraf M., Foolad M.R. Gene expression profiling of plants under salt stress. Crit. Rev. Plant Sci. 2011;30(5):435–458.

Munns R. Genes and salt tolerance: bringing them together. New Phytol. 2005;167:645–663.

Paul D. Osmotic stress adaptations in rhizobacteria. J. Basic Microbiol. 2012;52:1–10.

Pest management and crop development information for Illinois. http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/ No. 5 Article 7/May 7, 2010. Accessible at: http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/print.php?id=1305

Pooja Shrivastava⁎ and Rajesh Kumar. Soil salinity: A serious environmental issue and plant growth promoting bacteria as one of the tools for its alleviation. Saudi J Biol Sci. 2015 Mar; 22(2): 123–131.

Yamaguchi T., Blumwald E. Developing salt-tolerant crop plants: challenges and opportunities. Trends Plant Sci. 2005;10(12):615–620.