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Moving Forward on Remote Sensing of Soil Salinity at Regional Scale

Scudiero, Elia, Corwin, Dennis L., Anderson, Ray G., Skaggs, Todd H.
Frontiers in Environmental Science 2016 v.4 pp. 65
agricultural soils, canopy, crop yield, environmental science, food production, irrigated farming, irrigation management, issues and policy, monitoring, reflectance, remote sensing, salinity, soil quality, soil resources, soil salinity, soil water, water shortages
Soil salinity undermines global agriculture by reducing crop yield and impairing soil quality. Irrigation management can help control salinity levels within the soil root-zone. To best manage water and soil resources, accurate regional-scale inventories of soil salinity are needed. The past decade has seen several successful applications of soil salinity remote sensing. Two salinity remote sensing approaches exist: direct assessment based on analysis of surface soil reflectance (the most popular approach) and indirect assessment of root-zone (e.g., 0–1 m) soil salinity based on analysis of crop canopy reflectance. In this perspective paper, we call on researchers and funding agencies to pay greater attention to the indirect approach because it is better suited for surveying agriculturally important lands. A joint effort between agricultural producers, irrigation specialists, environmental scientists, and policy makers is needed to better manage saline agricultural soils, especially because of projected future water scarcity in arid and semi-arid irrigated areas. The remote sensing community should focus on providing the best tools for mapping and monitoring salinity in such areas, which are of vital relevance to global food production.