Soil salinity and its associated effects on soil microorganisms, greenhouse gas emissions, crop yield, biodiversity and desertification: A review

Zied Haj-Amor, Tesfay Araya, Dong Gill Kim, Salem Bouri, Jaehyun Lee, Wahida Ghiloufi, Yerang Yang, Hojeong Kang, Manoj Kumar Jhariya, Arnab Banerjee, Rattan Lal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Significant research has been conducted on the effects of soil salinity issue on agricultural productivity. However, limited consideration has been given to its critical effects on soil biogeochemistry (e.g., soil microorganisms, soil organic carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions), land desertification, and biodiversity loss. This article is based on synthesis of information in 238 articles published between 1989 and 2022 on these effects of soil salinity. Principal findings are as follows: (1) salinity affects microbial community composition and soil enzyme activities due to changes in osmotic pressure and ion effects; (2) soil salinity reduces soil organic carbon (SOC) content and alters GHG emissions, which is a serious issue under intensifying agriculture and global warming scenarios; (3) soil salinity can reduce crop yield up to 58 %; (4) soil salinity, even at low levels, can cause profound alteration in soil biodiversity; (5) due to severe soil salinity, some soils are reaching critical desertification status; (6) innovate mitigation strategies of soil salinity need to be approached in a way that should support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs). Knowledge gaps still exist mainly in the effects of salinity especially, responses of GHG emissions and biodiversity. Previous experiences quantifying soil salinity effects remained small-scale, and inappropriate research methods were sometimes applied for investigating soil salinity effects. Therefore, further studies are urgently required to improve our understanding on the effects of salinity, address salinity effects in larger-scale, and develop innovative research methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number156946
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported by the DAAD within the framework of the ClimapAfrica programme with funds of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research , Germany. D.-G.K. acknowledges support from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Coordinated Research Project ( CRP D1.50.20 ) ‘Developing Climate Smart Agricultural Practices for Mitigation of Greenhouse Gases’.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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