Salinization is the process involving an accumulation of salt in the topsoil. It is usually closely related to human action; in most cases either from inappropriate irrigation methods or overexploitation of coastal aquifers causing sea water intrusion. Once salinization occurs it has serious consequences such as the occurrence of soluble salts and deterioration of soil structure, which affect crop yield and can ultimately make the soil unsuitable for growing crops.

A video presentation explaining Salinization can be viewed HERE.
Salinization is expected to increase in the future due to increasing water demands, rising sea levels and changing climate. Once salinization has occurred it is hard to remediate, making prevention a better strategy. This requires judicious use of available fresh water resources as well as innovative irrigation methods.

Causes of salinization

Salinization can arise as the result of natural causes (primary salinity) or anthropogenic causes (secondary salinity)

Natural causes include

  • Reduction of precipitation (infiltation)
  • Sea level change
  • Geology (e.g. near-shore karst formations)
  • High salt content of the parent material or ground water

Anthropogenic causes include

  • Over-pumping (mostly problem in arid landscapes)
  • Illegal pumpng
  • Salt-rich irrigation water
  • Insufficient drainage due to water scarcity
  • Soil sealing (reduced infiltration)
  • Water retention infrastructure (dams etc.)