research10.1007/s10457-016-9891-5

Response of selected indigenous dryland agroforestry tree species to salinity and implications for soil fertility management

Abstract

Salt tolerant plants are known to remove excess soluble salts from the soil and thus may be used in land reclamation. We studied the responses of the trees, Balinites aegyptiaca L. (Zygophyllaceae), as well as the Fabaceae, Acacia tortilis (Forssk) Hayne, and Tamarindus indica L. to salinity. Three experiments were conducted on: germination, in the laboratory; seedling performance in a lath house; and, the impact of the tree species on soil productivity in the field in Afar regional state along the Awash river, eastern Ethiopia. Mixtures of salts, composed of chlorides and sulfates were tested at different concentrations in both germination and lath house experiments in randomized complete block designs. Seedling root collar diameter and height were measured every two weeks. Soil samples were collected from randomly selected pots to examine the effect of salinity on soil properties. The effects of trees on in situ soil productivity was studied by collecting 72 soil samples at different distances from the tree and different soil depths. The soil productivity index was calculated. The study revealed that germination percentage and rate decreased significantly with increasing salt concentrations. The effects of the three tree species on soil properties were significantly different at 12.2 dS m -1 salinity level compared to the control. A. tortilis was the least salt-sensitive. Balancing the key requirements of adequate germination and growth and the ability to reduce the salt concentration of the soil solution, B. aegyptiaca is the species with the most potential. Therefore, the study suggests to use B. aegyptiaca as agroforestry trees in the form of parkland in arid and semi-arid areas where salinity problems are prominent

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This paper was published in edoc.

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