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Irrigated agriculture and soil salinization in the Maltese islands



Irrigated agriculture and soil salinization in the Maltese islands



Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Part A, Toxic/Hazardous Substances & Environmental Engineering 38(8): 1569-1585



In the Maltese islands, soil is one of the most threatened natural resources, being continuously exposed to a multitude of climatic, environmental, and man-induced impacts. The changes in agricultural practices as well as increases in urban development have intensified environmental problems and have accentuated the pressures on agricultural land and fragile semi-natural ecosystems. Between 1956 and 2001, the total agricultural land declined from 20,433 ha to 10,713 ha, however, during the same period, the irrigated land as a percentage of total agricultural land increased from 3.9% to 10.7%. The poor quality of irrigation water sources, and the supply of treated sewage effluent with a high level of salts, contribute to a significant salt input. The extent of salt-affected soils in the Maltese islands is not well-documented, however, field observations and technical reports indicate that soil salinity is a potential constraint for agricultural production. This article gives a comparative review of the salinity status of soils in three case study areas in Malta, the agricultural dryland at Ghammieri, the intensively cultivated irrigated valley of Pwales, and the agricultural land irrigated with treated sewage effluent of the Sant Antnin Sewage Treatment Plant in the South-East of Malta. This analysis is provided in the context of the environmental impact of irrigation on soil quality in the Maltese islands.

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Accession: 010885767

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 12929809

DOI: 10.1081/ESE-120021481



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