Report - Crop trials 2018 Effects of salinity on the growth of different crops and the potential for saline farming

Arjen de Vos, Bas Bruning, Andres Parra Gonzalez, Edwin van Straten, André Meerkerk

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In 2018, the salt tolerance of 8 crops has been determined: potato, carrot, onion, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, grasspea and atriplex. The results outlined in this report imply that the cultivation of potato, cabbage and carrot is still possible under moderately saline conditions (EC 5-7 dS/m). This could mean that millions of hectares of salt-affected farmland can be cultivated successfully. Read the report summary and access our report below.

Water balance based on precipitationCrop response curve - carrotImpression of potato fieldImpression of the different Brassica crops

Summary

In 2018, 12 different varieties of 8 different crops were tested for salt tolerance at the open-air lab of the Saline Farming Group in the Netherlands. These crops were tested at a minimum of 6 different salinity levels (0.5, 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 dS/m (irrigation water) with a minimum of 4 repetitions per salinity treatment. Results show that the pore water salinity in the soil is close to the target salinity levels of the irrigation water, especially when the seasonal mean of the pore water salinity level is considered. Crop yields were plotted against the seasonal mean pore water salinity per plot. A robust statistical analysis was used to evaluate the crop response to increasing salinity. In some cases, the number of data points was limited due to the crop sensitivity (grass pea) and in other cases the variation in crop yield at comparable salinity levels was considerable. However, in general, the crop response curves are robust and, under the described conditions and a single year of testing, the salt tolerance levels range from “sensitive” to “highly tolerant”. The results indicate that in the salinity range of 5-7 dS/m (based on the extract of a saturated paste: ECe) there are varieties of potato, carrot and cabbage that still show a 90% yield or a 10% yield reduction. This implies that these varieties are suitable for cultivation under moderate saline conditions.

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