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Dryland Soils

  • Khan Towhid Osman
Chapter

Abstract

Dryland soils generally occur in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions with some occasional occurrence in other regions. The basis of definition of aridity or dryness is the ratio of mean annual precipitation to potential evapotranspiration, and this ratio is called the aridity index (AI). Dryland soils occur in regions of AI between 0.05 and 0.65. There are drylands in 40 percent of the world’s land area with 38 percent of the world’s population. According to an estimate, the total dryland areas of the world are 6310 million hectares (M ha) distributed mainly in Africa (2000 M ha), Asia (2000 M ha), in Oceania (680 M ha), in North America (760 M ha), South America (56 M ha) and in Europe (300 M ha). Drylands are characterized by low, irregular, and unevenly distributed rainfall and high potential evapotranspiration. Frequently there are high or low temperatures and occurrences of drought. Agriculture is difficult there mainly because of inherent soil moisture deficit and scarcity of irrigation water. All these factors make dryland regions prone to desertification hazards. In spite of all these difficulties, however, drylands contribute significantly to the production of cereals, pulses and livestock, particularly in different parts of Argentina, Australia, Canada, the former Soviet Union and the United States of America. Historically livestock rearing has been widespread in the dryland regions. Dryland soils are usually sandy, and may be saline, sodic, calcic, or gypsic in nature. These soils are of low fertility and can support low plant biomass productivity. Salinization, lack of adequate irrigation, rapid leaching and fertility depletion, sparse vegetation, over-grazing and erosion cause widespread soil degradation including desertification. As water is scarce there, human settlements are found around rivers, springs, wells, water catchments, reservoirs and oases.

Keywords

Arid regions Dryland salinity Dryland crops Dryland agriculture Desert reclamation 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khan Towhid Osman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of ChittagongChittagongBangladesh

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