Intercropping Halophytes to Mitigate Salinity Stress in Watermelon
Abstract, 2018, Sustainability
Saline irrigation water can lead to salt buildup and reduced crop yields. Halophytic plants are known to accumulate excess salts in tissues, removing them from the immediate environment. This two-phase experiment explored the feasibility of intercropping watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai var. lanatus) with halophytic species to mitigate the negative effects of saline irrigation water while providing a value-added crop. In the first experiment, six greenhouse-grown species were irrigated with water that was either deionized (0 dS m−1) or contained 3 or 6 dS m−1 of salts for 41 days and screened for growth and salt removal. Two halophytes were selected to be additively intercropped with watermelon under field conditions and irrigated with the same saline irrigation levels as the first experiment. Results indicated that garden orache (Atriplex hortensis L.) exhibited the highest growth rates and purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) accumulated high amounts of sodium in plant tissues under saline irrigation. The field experiment showed that watermelon yields, stem water potential, and fruit quality were not affected by saline irrigation; however, the watermelon/orache intercropping treatment had significantly higher yields. These results suggest intercropping with halophytes has the potential to contribute a value-added crop without reducing watermelon yields.
Citrullus lanatus; halophytes; salt stress; irrigation; garden orache; purslane