The reduction in fossil energy and row material sources induces growing demand for renewable resources. The growing demand for herbal raw materials has land use impacts as well. One way to reduce the conflict between the food and energy crops can be the utilization of less favored areas by growing energy crops. Among the potentially available areas for this purpose the salt affected soils (SAS) occupy a significant territories. SAS with structural B-horizon (meadow solonetz soils) represent the most wide spread group of SAS in Hungary. About half of these soils have been reclaimed and used as arable land and the remaining 50% are used as grassland. Sweet sorghum production for manufacturing of alcohol production was investigated in a long term amelioration and fertilization experiment on a salt affected soil (meadow solonetz). By means of regression analyzes the effect of sodium content of the soil and increasing mineral fertilizer doses were studied. According to the multiple regression analysis only the effect of nitrogen fertilizer was significant. On the solonetz type salt affected soil the effect of water soluble salt content of the soil was not significant, but there was a closer correlation between the ammonium-lactate sodium content and the yield of sweet sorghum. The maximum green mass was 45–50 t ha-1, in the case of low Na content and high level of nitrogen fertilization.
In order to quantify the potential yield of natural grass vegetation the relationship between the soil forming processes and the grass vegetation
was investigated. Beyond the different forms of Na-accumulation, the spatial pattern (mosaic-like characteristic) is also an inseparable feature of salt affected soils. The difference in the water regime, caused by the micro-relief is the main cause of variability. The run-on water keeps the deeper parts of the catena position wet longer. The wet situation causes more intensive leaching. In the low-laying parts of salt affected soils species preferring wet situations (mainly Alopecurus pratensis) are in majority. On the higher parts of the micro-relief species tolerating dry situations (mainly Festuca pseudovina) are dominant. The yearly grass production of low laying areas can be 4–7 t ha-1 but because of prolonged wet conditions the grass is not grazed and mowing can only be in old state. This old grass is not proper for feeding, but it may be suitable as energy plant.
Soil salinity is the main problem of soil degradation in the Grate Plain with cultivated area of 20% affected. Its influence is accelerated on the water managed and irrigated lands. Remote sensing can significantly contribute to detecting temporal changes of salt-related surface features. We have chosen a farm where intensive crop cultivation takes place as a test site as soil degradation can be intensive as a result of land use and irrigation. In order to evaluate soil salt content and biomass analysis, we gathered detailed data from an 100x250 m area. We analyzed the salinity property of the samples. In our research we used a TETRACAM ADC multispectral camera to take high resolution images (0,2-0,5 m) of low altitude (300-500 m). A Normalized Vegetation Index was computed from near infrared (750-950 nm) and red (620-750 nm) bands. This data was compared with the samples of investigated area. Analyzing the images, we evaluated image reliability, and the connection between the bands and the soil properties (pH, salt content). A strong correlation observed between NDVI and soil salinity (EC) makes the multispectral images suitable for construction of salinity map. A further strong correlation was determined between NDVI and yield.
Salt affected soils cover about 1 million hectares in Hungary. This paper is based on the research results obtained at the Karcag-puszta long-term experimental site, where, depending on the catena, crusty (A horizon=0–7 cm), medium (A hor.=8– 20 cm) and deep (A hor.>20 cm) subtypes of the Meadow Solonetz soil could be found. The chemical reclamation was made specifically for the given site. Lime was applied on the soils with neutral or slightly acidic top layer, while on the soils with alkaline top layer, gypsum was applied. As regards internal drainage, a tube system with an average depth of 1 m and 5, 10 and 15 m drain spacing was constructed. Decreasing salt and sodium content could be measured both in drained and non-drained soils. The advantage of drainage was that the leachingout extended to the whole layer above the drain pipes, while without drainage, the Na ions exchanged from the upper layers still accumulated at a depth of 60– 100 cm. In the first two decades, the groundwater level was deeper and leaching was the dominant process. Since 2004, due to the frequently high groundwater level, the leaching and deepening of the fertile top layer has been slower.