Overcoming Salinity Barriers to Crop Production Using Traditional Methods

Z. Plaut, M. Edelstein, M. Ben-Hur

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Salinity is a major problem in arid and semi-arid regions, where irrigation is essential for crop production. Major sources of salinity in these regions are salt-rich irrigation water and improper irrigation management. The effects of salinity on crops include inhibition of growth and production, and ultimately, death. There are two main approaches to alleviating the adverse effects of salinity on agricultural crops: (i) development of salt-tolerant cultivars by screening, conventional breeding or genetic engineering, and (ii) the traditional approach dealing with treatments and management of the soil, plants, irrigation water, and plant environment. The success of the first approach is limited under commercial growing conditions, because salt-tolerance traits in plants are complex. The present paper reviews, analyzes, and discusses the following traditional approaches: (i) improving the plant environment, (ii) exploiting interactions between plant roots and bacteria and fungi, and (iii) treating the plant directly. With respect to improving the plant environment, we review the possibilities of decreasing salt content and concentration and improving the nutrient composition and concentration in the root zone, and controlling the plant's aerial environment. The interactions between salt-tolerant bacteria or mycorrhizal fungi and root systems, and their effects on salt-tolerance, are demonstrated and discussed. Discussed treatments aimed at alleviating salinity hazard by treating the plant directly include priming of seeds and young seedlings, using proper seed size, grafting onto tolerant rootstocks, applying non-enzymatic antioxidants, plant growth regulators or compatible solutes, and foliar application of nutrients. It can be concluded from the present review that the traditional approaches provide promising means for alleviating the adverse effects of salinity on agricultural crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-291
Number of pages42
JournalCritical Reviews in Plant Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • antioxidant
  • compatible solute
  • grafting
  • growth regulator
  • leaching
  • mycorrhiza
  • sodium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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