Crop diversification and saline water irrigation as potential strategies to save freshwater resources and reclamation of marginal soils—a review

Muhammad Iftikhar Hussain*, Muhammad Farooq, Adele Muscolo, Abdul Rehman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Feeding 9 billion by 2050 is one of major challenges for researchers. Use of diversified crops, nonconventional water resources and rehabilitation of marginal lands are alternate options to produce more food to face climate change projections. Adaptation to climate change through climate smart agriculture practices, agroecology activities, and crop-based management packages can help transform the marginal lands from environmental burdens into productive and economic blocks. This review discusses the recent advancements on specialty group of alternate crops (oil seeds, legumes, cereals, medicinal, lignocellulose, and fruit crops) which can adapt in the marginal environments. Availability of alternate water resources (saline water, treated wastewater) for irrigation cannot be omitted. Crop diversification systems involving drought and salt-tolerant crops are likely to be the key to future agricultural and economic growth in the regions where salt-affected soils exist and/or saline aquifers are pumped for irrigation. These systems may tackle three main tasks: sustainable management of land resources and enhancement of per unit productivity; intensification of agroecological practices to increase soil fertility; and improving productivity of marginal lands for diversified climate smart crops. This review explores various aspects of marginal lands and selection of tolerant crop genotypes, crop diversification, and agroecological practices to maximize benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28695-28729
Number of pages35
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Drought
  • Forage crops
  • Fruit trees
  • Land degradation
  • Marginal environment
  • Oil seed crops
  • Perennials
  • Saline water
  • Salt-affected soils
  • Salt-tolerant crops

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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