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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Plant salt tolerance

item Grieve, Catherine
item Grattan, S
item Maas, E

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/5/2008
Publication Date: 12/5/2011
Publication URL:
Citation: Grieve, C.M., Grattan, S.R., Maas, E.V. 2012. Plant salt tolerance. In: Wallender, W.W. and Tanji, K.K. (eds.) ASCE Manual and Reports on Engineering Practice No. 71 Agricultural Salinity Assessment and Management. 2nd Edition. ASCE, Reston, VA. p. 405-459.

Interpretive Summary: Multiple water crises are looming across this country. The long-term availability of sufficient water to meet the nation’s domestic, industrial, agricultural and ecological needs is in serious doubt. At the same time, the condition of water resources in many parts of the country is deteriorating. One of the opportunities for conserving fresh water is the reuse of degraded, generally saline, waters for irrigation of agronomic and horticultural crops. The successful use of recycled waters for crop production requires that growers are knowledgeable of plant salt tolerance and the limitations that salinity and specific ions place on crop yield and quality. This chapter presents, in tabular form, the relative salt tolerance of herbaceous and woody crops, ornamental and landscape plants, and ecologically-important species. Information is provided on the susceptibility of plants to specific ions, such as sodium, chloride, sulfate, bicarbonate and boron which act directly or in concert to cause toxicities, deficiencies or nutritional imbalances which may reduce plant yield, quality, aesthetic value, and/or survival.

Technical Abstract: Many factors have led to increased interest in using recycled wastewaters to irrigate agronomic and horticultural crops as well as plants in ornamental landscapes. One major driving force is the uncertainty of the allocation and dependability of good quality water in the future as competition among agricultural, urban, industrial, environmental, and recreational groups continues to increase. Faced with less dependable supplies of good quality water, these users now turn to recycled, degraded waters as a valuable alternative and are continuing to develop innovative plant and water management strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of salt and specific ion stresses these poor quality waters may impose on plant growth, yield and quality. A second motivating factor is the lack of suitable drainage outlets in many agricultural areas of the world. Drainage of irrigated lands is one of the requisites for sustaining agricultural productivity in a given region over the long term. Adequate drainage not only allows for better aeration in the crop root zone but provides a means by which salinity and toxic elements can be managed and controlled. Reuse of drainage water for irrigation is one way of expanding the useable water supply while at the same time, reducing drainage volume. The emphasis of this chapter is on 1) how plants respond to salinity and toxic elements (i.e. Na+, Cl-, and B), 2) crop salt-tolerance and the various factors that influence plant response to salinity, 3) the extent to which salinity affects crop yields and quality, and 4) management strategies to optimize yields by controlling soil salinity.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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