Saline-sodic soils are characterized by the occurrence of salt and sodium (Na+) to levels that can adversely affect several soil properties and growth of most crops. In this study, we reported a pot experiment for studying the biomass production, ion accumulation and potential soil ameliorative effects of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) grown under calcareous saline-sodic soil conditions. Seed-derived plants of F. arundinacea, were grown in pots filled with three different soils collected from two saline-sodic areas and one non-saline area. Results revealed that F. arundinacea biomass production was reduced under saline-sodic soils almost twice as much as non-saline soil. Herbage Ca2+ and Mg2+ concentration were the highest in non-saline soil but Na+, K+ and Cl- values were the highest in saline-sodic soils. Salty characteristics of the soils led to increased concentrations of Na+ and Cl- elements in the plants. F. arundinacea plantation in saline-sodic soils reduced the soil initial ECe values to 2.1 and 3.41 units, respectively. Plants stimulated calcite dissolution and increased soil soluble Ca2+ content. This lowered the initial exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) values of saline-sodic soils from 23 and 26% to 19 and 22%, respectively. At harvest, the plants removed approximately 20 and 33 kg salt ha-1 from the saline-sodic soils, respectively.
Key words: Soil salinity, saline-sodic soils, Festuca arundinacea, forage plants, soil reclamation, phytoremediation.
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