In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Global Symposium on Salt-affected Soils (GSAS21) “Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity” was held in a virtual format from 20 to 22 October 2021.
This science-policy meeting was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, its Global Soil Partnership (GSP), the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), together with the Science Policy Interface of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (SPI-UNCCD), the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), the International Center on Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), the International Network of Salt-Affected Soils (INSAS), and the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG).
There are naturally saline or sodic soils, which harbor valuable ecosystems, and include a range of plants that are adapted to extreme conditions. However, secondary salinity and sodicity can develop or increase rapidly in response to unsustainable human activities, posing a threat to agricultural production, food security, the provision of essential ecosystem services as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Salinization and sodification of soils are among the most serious global threats to arid and semi-arid regions but also for croplands in coastal regions and in case of irrigation with wastewater in any climate.
The main objectives of the Symposium are to share knowledge on salinity prevention, management, and adaptation and to establish critical connections between science, practice, and policy by facilitating discussion among policy makers, food producers, scientists, and practitioners for sustainable management of salt-affected soils.
Symposium keynote speakers
Angelica Kaus, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Farmers and scientists working hand in hand is the key of our North Sea Region project on saline farming - SalFar.
Raul Lavado, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
The main challenge we face is to improve the productivity of soils affected by salts in humid areas of Latin America. To achieve this, we must create cost-effective and sustainable technologies.
Kristina Toderich, International Platform for Dryland Research and Education, Tottori University, Japan
We all must learn how to live with salinity. The future of the food system heavily depends on our ability to produce food on marginal lands. Crop selection, social and technological innovation, and changing the way we do and understand farming are essential.
John Triantafilis, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research New Zealand
If we want to manage the processes driving mobilization of the salt of the earth into the rootzone, we urgently need proven methods to measure and map the spatial distribution of soil salinity.
Piet Nell, Agricultural Research Council: Institute for Soil, Climate and Water, South Africa
Salt affected soils are a worldwide issue not only severely reducing soil sustainability and crop productivity but also gradually reducing the area of cultivated land.