International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security
A Comprehensive Overview of Soil Salinization in Pakistan
Muhammad Irshad* and Mitsuhiro Inoue
Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University, Tottori, Japan
The economy of Pakistan relies on agriculture. The total area is 80 million hectares with a very good canal irrigated system mainly confined to the Indus plain. Soil salinity, sodicity and waterlogging are amongst the significant problems not only causing land degradation but also possess greater economic and social consequences in the country. The development of sustainable land-use system under saline conditions is the major challenge facing to the Pakistani farmers. Since the location of Pakistan is in arid and semi-arid climatic zones, therefore, the evaporation rate is higher and exceeds that of precipitation. High evapo-transpiration is the basic cause for salt accumulation on the soil surface. More than 6 million hectares of land are salt-affected. The soil salinization is also related to the vast irrigation system in Pakistan. Intensive and continuous use of surface irrigation has altered the hydrological balance of the irrigated areas, especially Indus basin. Mismanagement, incorrect irrigation and lack of drainage have resulted the accumulation of salts in the soil profile. There is a major imbalance in the amount of salt entering and leaving the soil. The magnitude and intensity of the problem can be ascertained from the fact that the productive land is being damaged by salinity at an alarming rate of about 0.04 million hectares annually. Although the problem of soil salinization is being given serious attention by the government of Pakistan, but still there is much to do. A large number of projects have been launched on this aspect. It is also desirable to encourage the non-governmental agencies by supplying all sorts of facilities for the reclamation of salt affected lands. The modified feasible hydrological approach in conjunction with chemical and biological reclamation would manage and bring the salt-affected soils under plough for productive agriculture. In view of the urgency and seriousness of the problem there is an intensive need for the extensive integrated efforts to effectively remediate and rehabilitate salt-affected soils to maintain long term productivity in the country.