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I once saw a report that concluded that irrigation in semi-arid climates such as California's led to increasing salinification of the soil, increasingly rendering arable land useless for economic activity.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 03:31:11 PM EST
Absolutely.  In Uzbekistan in the early 90's, we were advised not to eat fruit and drink local water at the same meal because of the excessive salinity: a result of the decades of irrigation (mostly for cotton crops) that also led to
the shrinking of the Aral Sea.

The water definitely tasted salty, and the fruit had a unique mouth-puckering quality I've never experienced anywhere else.

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that, worldwide, 10 million hectares of arable land is lost to irrigation salinity every year. In Australia approximately 2.4 million hectares of land is affected by salinity and 5.7 million hectares of productive land is at risk. It has been estimated that the area of salt-affected land in Australia could increase six-fold in the next 30 to 50 years.
by Sassafras on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 04:14:48 PM EST
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