UV conference analyses the threat of high salt concentration in soils

A joint meeting between the Red Internacional de Suelos Afectados por Sales (INSAS: International Network on Salt-Affected Soils) and the COST Action on the Sustainable Use of Salt-Affected Lands (SUSTAIN) analyses in the Faculty of Geography and History of the Universitat de València the threat of high salt concentration in soils. Experts from 39 countries from five continents will attend the meeting, which runs from Monday, 27 to Friday, 31 May, both face-to-face and remotely.

Thus, on Monday there will be a workshop on salt-concentrated soil and its management; on Tuesday the INSAS and SUSTAIN technical sessions will take place; on Wednesday, 29 the training on salt-affected soils and halophytes will be analysed, and on Thursday and Friday (the last two days) field visits will be organised. Now in its third edition, the meeting held in Valencia aims to address the global threats of soil salinity and encourage stronger connections between science, politics, and the agricultural sector. On behalf of the UV, the organising committee includes teachers Jorge Batlle, Artemi Cerdá and Gerardo Stübing.

Salt-affected soils are a group with distinctive characteristics among the diversity of soils in the world. Many are primary or naturally saline soils, ranging from mangroves, marshes and coastal wetlands to inland salt flats and ancient seabeds, all’of which harbour unique ecosystems that are adapted to extreme salinity conditions. Their resilience makes a significant contribution to global biodiversity and offers a fascinating insight into life’s capacity to adapt. Studying these environment not only enriches our understanding of nature, but also helps unravel the keys to adapt to future scenarios that are vital for sustaining crops in saline conditions and ensuring food safety for the world’s growing population.

Nonetheless, as the global population grows exponentially and living standards improve, pressure on turning once marginal land into fertile soil increases. This phenomenon is particularly prevalent in arid and semi-arid regions, which are heavily dependent on irrigation for agricultural production and are scarce in freshwater resources. As a result, secondary salinisation -the gradual and man-made accumulation of salts in soil- is a major constraint on agricultural production. The situation will worsen as the effects of global warming and climate change intensify, forcing populations to abandon degraded areas and will triggering migration.