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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Riverside, California » Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #407745

Research Project: Understanding and Improving Salinity Tolerance in Specialty Crops

Location: Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit

Title: Fields of the future: Pivotal role of Biosaline Agriculture in farming

item GHEYI, HANS - Federal University Of Campina Grande
item Sandhu, Devinder
item LACERDA, CLAUDIVAN - Universidade Federal Do Ceara (UFC)

Submitted to: Agriculture
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/6/2023
Publication Date: 9/7/2023
Citation: Gheyi, H.R., Sandhu, D., Lacerda, C.F. 2023. Fields of the future: Pivotal role of Biosaline Agriculture in farming. Agriculture. 13(9):1774.

Interpretive Summary: Biosaline agriculture is a farming method that involves the cultivation of plants in salty environments, using salt-affected soils and/or water for irrigation. There is a massive amount of salty soil in the world, a lot of which is the result of human mistakes, like watering crops the wrong way or not taking care of our land's drainage system. Instead of trying to fix these soils, which can be pretty costly, scientists are looking at other creative ways. They are using certain plants, known as halophytes, which naturally like salt and can help improve these areas over time. Another big worry we have is that our underground water is getting saltier too. This is because of seawater mixing with it, water evaporating from farms, and even some of our actions. Since farming needs a lot of water, this salty groundwater problem is a big deal, especially when we also use chemicals that make it even saltier. So, we need to be smart about how we use water in farming, maybe even reuse it. The good news is, that there is a lot of salty water, and we can use salty water for farming. Scientists have found some creative ways to help plants handle salt. Certain hormones, chemicals, and bacterial treatments help plants handle stress and even make plants stronger against salt. In addition, understanding how plants handle salt inside them can help us breed new plants that can thrive in salty conditions. In short, even though salty soils and waters are a problem, smart farming can help us find solutions. If we use the knowledge we have now and keep learning more, we can make sure we have enough food for everyone in the future. This manuscript provides students and researchers with a comprehensive understanding of the principles of biosaline agriculture. It also underscores the significance of addressing salinity issues in the broader context of global food security.

Technical Abstract: Biosaline agriculture, which utilizes brackish waters and salt-affected soils, offers a sustainable solution for regions grappling with salinity and water scarcity. These problems intensify in arid zones, with approximately 1 billion hectares of salt-affected soils globally, largely resulting from human-induced secondary salinization due to poor irrigation and drainage. Remedial strategies like cultivating halophytes, revegetation, and phytoremediation are emerging as sustainable alternatives to costly reclamation efforts. Groundwater salinization poses another concern, exacerbated by seawater intrusion, farming evaporation, and human activity. With agriculture as a significant water consumer, declining groundwater quality is alarming, especially considering added challenges from fertilizers and pesticides. This underscores the urgency for sustainable farming techniques, including water recycling. Brackish water, plentiful in many regions, offers promise for agriculture. To counteract the detrimental effects of high salinity, several innovative strategies have been developed. Salicylic acid, a notable phytohormone, has been identified as a potent agent in mitigating plant stress. Additionally, Calcium lignosulfonate (Ca-LIGN) has demonstrated a marked ability to enhance plant resilience against salinity by positively affecting antioxidant activities. A further pioneering method involves the inoculation of plants with beneficial microorganisms, specifically Bacillus aryabhattai, which not only alleviates salinity stress but also significantly improves soil health. Salinity management in plants hinges on understanding the intricate pathways managing ions like sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl-). While Na+ has been central to discussions, Cl- toxicity, particularly harmful to specific species, warrants attention. Exploring the genetic networks that regulate the movement of Na+ and Cl- within plants, may pave the way for the creation of salt-tolerant plant genotypes. In summary, while salinity challenges loom large, emerging research and strategies offer hope. Tailoring global insights to local contexts will be vital to ensure sustainable biosaline agriculture and secure our food future.