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Title: Saline horticulture in the UK : an exploration of the potential of some novel or underutilised crops
Author: Keeling, Catherine
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2012
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Globally, the salinisation of agricultural land is a significant problem, associated predominantly with irrigated and dryland agriculture. To date, the UK has been largely unaffected by this issue, but increasing water shortages in the east of England could force irrigators to investigate the use of lower quality water. Two underutilised or novel crops, chard and quinoa, were investigated with respect to their potential for cultivation under saline conditions in the UK. The potential ameliorating effect of adding silicon to saline irrigation water was also examined. Chard and quinoa both performed well at levels of salinity representative of the more saline groundwater found in the UK. Chard suffered no yield reduction, and positive effects were observed with respect to leaf thickness and colour intensity. These relatively low salinity conditions may potentially, therefore, enhance shelf-life; limitations in which are one reason for the current underutilisation of this crop. At higher salinity, quinoa showed similar tolerance to the conventional salt tolerant crop, I barley. At the lower salinity level described above, there was no reduction in vegetative yield. Salinity strongly increased the area of individual quinoa leaves, an unusual physiological response warranting further investigation. Silicon fully ameliorated the negative effect of salinity on shoot water content in tomato, but had no effect on dry matter: accumulation. The sustainability of irrigated production faces serious challenges, with demand for water from all sectors increasing as the availability of the resource simultaneously diminishes. It was concluded that best practice and the development of predictive modelling for use with saline water under UK conditions should enable irrigators to make use of marginal water with little or no yield penalty, with Swiss chard being an ideal candidate crop for growers wishing to explore such possibilities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available