Date: 06 Dec 2012

Atriplex Production Under Saline Soil and Saline Irrigation Practices

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Abstract

This chapter addresses various aspects of Atriplex cultivation (Atriplex halimus and Atriplex nummularia) from Egypt and Morocco. The species were analyzed for germination and growth under irrigation with different water salinity levels (5, 10, and 20 dS m−1) and freshwater as control. Germination experiments were conducted on filter paper and sterilized soils. Growth and development parameters were measured on plants growing in sandy soil. One set of 64 containers was flushed with saline water to start the experiment. The germination experiment was continued for 2 months. Germination percentage, plant height, number of shoots and lateral shoots, fresh and dry weight, leaf area, xylem water potential, and Na and Cl ion content in plants were recorded in germination tests. Soil salinity (EC) at various depths and Na and Cl ions in soil were determined. It has been found that the germinability of both species (fresh seeds) is correlated linearly to water EC; both species gave different quantitative responses to various treatments, and the best response was with non-freshwater treatment, indicating that plants showed a good potential of taking up salt from saline soil in the soil column. A strict correlation was contributing to the desalinization of the saline soil irrigated with freshwater that promptly leached the salinized soil, while irrigation with diluted seawater caused a progressive enrichment of salts in soil and subsequently in the leaves and xylem water potential. It is concluded that Atriplex can be profitably grown in saline environment where conventional plants cannot grow. However, more research is needed to explore many ecophysiological aspects as well as to assess the long-term sustainability of saline water irrigation.