Agricultural problems of saline arable land in Pakistan

  • J. Rozema
Part of the Tasks for vegetation science book series (TAVS, volume 22)


Salinity represents a serious threat to irrigated arable land. It has been estimated that about one-third of the irrigated land of the world is now salt-affected. In addition, vast areas of potentially fertile land cannot be used for the cultivation of conventional crops because of an excessive salt content of the soil.

Crop growth is not only depressed by excess salt but also by the poor quality of the structure of the saline soil. Under certain conditions chemical amendment (application of gypsum) may improve the physico-chemical quality of arable land but only locally and at high costs. For the arid and semi arid conditions in Pakistan it can be calculated that using the amount of water the river Indus transports through the flood plains, only a limited area can be properly irrigated and used for agriculture without salination. Therefore an extensive area of salt affected land will always remain and be abandoned by the farmers. During the last two decades biosaline research aims at cultivation of salt adapted plants on saline arable land.

The perspective of conventional screening and breeding techniques to obtain salt tolerant crops is discussed. Also advanced biotechnological approaches (callus and cell culture, meristem culture, plant regeneration, and protoplast fusion) have improved the possibilities to increase salt tolerance in plants. Fodderbeet is a domesticated cultivar of the coastal halophyte Beta vulgaris. Cultivars of the fodder beet were found fairly salt tolerant and even improved growth of the leaves and beet was found on saline land in field trials as compared with non-saline land.

Further field studies are being carried out to test the usefulness of this salt tolerant crop on salt affected land in Pakistan combined with other salt tolerant crops (Chenopods, grasses, legumes), to be used in rotation schemes. In addition, since the mechanism of salt tolerance is still incompletely understood, fundamental research is required to see how higher plants may grow well under saline conditions.


Salt Tolerance Arable Land Saline Soil Salinity Tolerance Sodium Adsorption Ratio 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abdullah, Zaib un Nisa, 1986. Physiology and biochemistry of plants under saline environment. Ph.D. Thesis University of Karachi: pp. 208.Google Scholar
  2. Abdullah, Zaib un Nisa, 1987a. Physiology of Fodderbeet Cultivation. In: Pakistan Agricultural Research Council. Annual. Report, pp. 178–181.Google Scholar
  3. Abdullah, Zaib un Nisa 1987b. Potential of Chickpea and constraints to its production in Pakistan. In: Adaptation of chickpea and pigeonpea to abiotic stresses. Proc. Consultants workshop/Icrisat, India pp. 143–148.Google Scholar
  4. Ahmad, R., Ismail, S. & Khan, D., 1986. Use of highly saline water for irrigation at sandy soil. In: R. Ahmad & A. San Pietro (eds.) Prospects for biosaline research. Shamir Printing Press, Karachi, pp. 389–414.Google Scholar
  5. Ahmad, M., Niazi, B. H. & Sandhu, G. R., 1988. Effectiveness of gypsum, HCl and organic matter for the improvement of saline sodic soils. Pakistan J. Agric. Res. 9: 373–378.Google Scholar
  6. Ahmad, R. & San Pietro, A., 1986. (eds.) Prospects for bio-saline research. Shamir Printing Press, Karachi, pp. 587.Google Scholar
  7. Chapman, V. J., 1975. The salinity problem in general, its importance and distribution with special reference to natural halophytes. In: A. Poljakoff-Mayber & J. Gale (eds.) Plants in saline environments, pp. 7–24.Google Scholar
  8. Charnock, A., 1988. Plants with a taste for salt. New Scientist 3: 41–45.Google Scholar
  9. Cheeseman, J. M., 1988. Mechanisms of salinity tolerance in plants. Plant Physiol. 87: 547–550.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Epstein, E., 1985. Salt tolerant crops: origins, development, and prospects of the concept. Plant & Soil. 89: 187–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. FAO-UNESCO, 1973. Irrigation, drainage and salinity, An international source book. Hutchinson, London.Google Scholar
  12. Forster, B., 1988. Wheat can take on more than a pinch of salt. New Scientist 3: 43–45.Google Scholar
  13. Gallagher, J. L., 1985. Halophytic crops for cultivation at sea-water salinity. Plant and Soil 89: 323–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gamborg, O. L., Ketchum, R. E. B., Nabors, M. W., 1986. Tissue culture and cell biotechnology for increased salt tolerance in crop plants. In: R. Ahmad & A. San Pietro (eds.) Prospects for biosaline research. Shamir Printing Press Karachi, pp. 93–100.Google Scholar
  15. Gorham, J., McDonnell, E., Budrewicz, E. & Wyn Jones, R. G., 1985. Salt tolerance in the Triticeae: growth and solute accumulation in leaves of Thinopyrum bessarabicum. J. Exp. Bot. 36: 1021–1031.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hanson, M. R., 1984. Cell culture and recombinant DNA methods for understanding and improvening salt tolerance of plants. In: R. Staples (ed.) Salinity tolerance in plants: strategies for crop improvement, pp. 335–359.Google Scholar
  17. Hasegawa, P. M., Bressan, R. A. & Hauda, A. K., 1986. Cellular mechanisms of salinity tolerance Hort. Science. 21: 1317–1324.Google Scholar
  18. Khan, D., Ahmad, R. & Ismail, S., 1986. Case history of Prosopis juliflora plantation at Makhan coast raised through saline water irrigation. In: R. Ahmad & A. San Pietro (eds.) Prospects for biosaline research. Shamir Printing Press Karachi, pp. 559–585.Google Scholar
  19. Kochba, J., Ben-Hayim, G., Spiegel, Roy, P., Saad, S. & Neuman, H., 1982. Selection of stable NaCl-tolerant callus cell lines and embryos in Citrus. J. Plant Physiol. 106: 111–118.Google Scholar
  20. Maas, E. V., 1986. Salt tolerance of plants. Applied Agricultural Research 1: 12–26.Google Scholar
  21. Malcolm, C. V., 1986. Rainfed halophyte forage production on salt affected soils. In: R. Ahmad & A. San Pietro (eds.) Prospects for biosaline research. Shamir Printing Press Karachi, pp. 542–551.Google Scholar
  22. Malcolm, C. V. & Swaan, T. C., 1985. Soil mulches and sprayed coatings and seed washing to aid chenopod establishment on saline soil. Aust. Ranged. J. 7: 22–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Malik, K. A., Aslam, Z. & Naqvi, M., 1986. Kallar grass, a plant for saline land. Ghulamali Printers, Lahore, pp. 93.Google Scholar
  24. Massoud, F. I., 1974. Salinity and alkalinity as soil degradation hazards. FAO/UNDP. Expert consultation on soil degradation. Rome.Google Scholar
  25. McLoy, T. J., 1987. Tissue culture evaluation of NaCl tolerance in Medicago species: Cellular versus whole plant response. Plant Cell Reports. 6: 31–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Meiri, A. & Plaut, Z., 1985. Crop production and management under saline conditions. Plant and Soil 89: 253–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mudie, P. J., 1974. The potential economic uses of halophytes. In: P.J. Reimold & W.H. Queen (eds.) Ecology of Halophytes. Academic Press, New York pp. 565–597.Google Scholar
  28. Niazi, B. H. & Abdullah, Z., 1989. Physiology of fodderbeet cultivation in Pakistan under saline conditions. National Agricultural Research Centre 30 pp.Google Scholar
  29. Ponnamperuma, F. N., 1984. Role of cultivar tolerance in increasing rice production on saline lands. In: R.C. Staples & G.H. Toeniessen (eds.) Salinity tolerance in plants: strategies for crop improvement. John Wiley, New York pp. 255–271.Google Scholar
  30. Reeve, R. C. & Fireman, M., 1967. Salt problems in relation to irrigation. Agronomy 11: 988–1008.Google Scholar
  31. Richards, L. A., 1954. Diagnosis and improvement of saline and alkali soils. U.S. Dept. Agric. Hand Book No. 60.Google Scholar
  32. Rozema, J., 1975. The influence of salinity, inundation and temperature on the germination of some halophytes and non-halophytes. Oecol. Plant. 10: 341–353.Google Scholar
  33. Rozema, J., 1990. Growth, water and ion relations of monocot and dicot halophytes; a unified concept. Aquat. Botany (in press).Google Scholar
  34. Rozema, J., Arp, W., Diggelen, J., van, Kok, E., Fanger, A. M. & Letschert, J., 1986. Comparative ecophysiology of the water relations of salt resistant monocotyledonae and dicoty-ledonae. In: R. Ahmad & A. San Pietro (eds.) Prospects for biosaline research. Shamir Printing Press Karachi, pp. 101–114.Google Scholar
  35. Rozema, J., Arp, W., Diggelen, J. van, Kok, E. & Letschert, J., 1987. An ecophysiological comparison of measurements of the diurnal rhythm of the leafelongation and changes of the leaf thickness of salt-resistant dicotyledonae and monocotile-donae. J. Exp. Bot. 38: 442–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rozema, J., Bijwaard, B., Prast, G. & Broekman, R., 1985. Ecophysiological strategies of coastal halophytes from fire dunes and salt marshes. Vegetatio 62: 487–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rozema, J., Scholten, M. C. T., Blaauw, P. A. & Diggelen, J. van., 1988. Distribution limits and physiological tolerances with particular reference to the salt marsh habitat. In: A.J. Davy, M.J. Hutchings & M.J. Watkinson (eds.) Plant Population Ecology, Blackwell, Oxford pp. 137–164.Google Scholar
  38. Sandhu, G. R. & Qureshi, R. H., 1985. Salt affected soils of Pakistan and their utilization. Reclam. Reveg. Res.Google Scholar
  39. Shannon, M. C, 1984. Breeding, selection and the genetics of salt tolerance. In: R.C. Staples & G.H. Toeniessen (eds.) Salinity tolerance in plants: strategies for crop improvement. John Wiley, New York, pp. 231–254.Google Scholar
  40. Shannon, M. C, 1985. Principles and strategies in breeding for higher salt tolerance. Plant and Soil. 89: 227–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stavarek, S. J., & Rains, D. W., 1984. Cell culture techniques: selection and physiological studies of salt tolerance. In: R.C. Staples & G.H. Toeniessen (eds.) Salinity tolerance in plants: strategies for crop improvement, John Wiley, New York, pp. 321–334.Google Scholar
  42. Tal, M., 1985. Genetics of salt control in higher plants: theoretical and practical considerations. Plant and Soil. 89:187–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Toeniessen G. H., 1984. Review of the world food situation and the role of salt tolerant plants. In: R.C. Staples & G.H. Toeniessen (eds.) Salinity tolerance in plants: Strategies for crop improvement, pp. 399–413.Google Scholar
  44. USDA, 1954. Salinity laboratory staff: saline and alkali soils. U.S. Dept. Agriculture Handbook no. 60. U.S. Government Printin Office, Washington, DC. pp. 160.Google Scholar
  45. Waisel, Y., 1972. Biology of halophytes. Academic Press pp. 395.Google Scholar
  46. Yeo, A. R. & Flowers, T. J., 1984. Mechanisms of salinity resistance in rice and their role as physiological criteria in plant breeding. In: R.C. Staples & G.H. Toeniessen (eds.) Salinity tolerance in plants: strategies for crop improvement. pp. 151–169.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Rozema
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and EcotoxicologyVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations