Submitted to: Handbook of Plant and Crop Stress
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: June 30, 2010
Publication Date: January 1, 2011
Citation: Grieve, C.M. 2011. Salinity-induced enhancement of horticultural crop quality. In: Pessarakli, M. editor. Handbook of Plant and Crop Stress. Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, Group. Chapter 47 p. 1173-1194. Interpretive Summary: Salinity is the major limiting factor in crop production in irrigated agriculture. Once the salts in the plant root zone increase above a certain threshold level, crop yields are reduced. However, many plants adjust to low and moderately saline environments and are able to survive and complete their life cycles by production of a wide variety of bioactive constituents (sugars, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, antioxidants). While not all of these phytochemicals are necessary in human diets, they promote good health and contribute to the prevention of chronic and age-related degenerative diseases and to weight control, particularly the control of juvenile obesity. The controlled use of saline irrigation, therefore, increases nutritive quality of numerous fruits and vegetables from asparagus to zucchini squash. Considerable research during the past decade has focused on procedures for increasing crop quality, while minimizing yield losses due to salinity This manuscript reviews that methodology and stresses the beneficial effects of salinity on selected fruits and vegetables, medicinal crops, oil-seed crops, and ornamental crops.
Technical Abstract: Most arid or semi-arid areas of modern irrigated agriculture are subjected to growing water security uncertainties. Surface and subsurface water allocation is a complex system of competing and interacting demands from agricultural, urban, industrial,environmental, tribal and recreational groups. Agricultural users, faced with less water or with lower quality water than desired, have responded by developing improved and innovative soil, water, and drainage management strategies in order to effectively use alternative water resources: urban wastewaters, recycled drainage waters, seawater contaminated well waters, and other low-quality waters. Such strategies will conserve fresh water supplies, reduce the volumes of drainage waters requiring disposal, minimize discharge of salts and potentially toxic trace elements to the environment, reduce the area affected by shallow water tables and optimize land productivity. Improved management practices for crop production under irrigation with brackish waters have been developed to minimize yield losses and other detrimental effects due to salinity stress. Over the years, it has become increasingly obvious to growers and researchers alike that the controlled reuse of alternative saline waters not only improves environmental stewardship, but also offers a second benefit by providing a unique opportunity for improving crop quality by judicious management of saline irrigation waters. In response to salt stress, plants produce constitutents that play important roles in human nutrition and contribute to consumer perception of quality (flavor, taste, color, aroma, visual appeal). The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate that not all effects of salinity on plants are negative and to highlight research directed towards minimizing yield losses and maximizing quality in salt-stressed crops. The benefits of salinity may be substantial, based on the economic advantages due to improvements in crop quality.