Maintaining soil health in dryland areas
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Drylands cover 40% of the global terrestrial space and are home for 2 billion people, often the most vulnerable. Land use is dominated by rangelands and much less by croplands, while barren areas with sparse vegetation mixed with rock outcrops are widespread. In spite of their hostile nature, drylands host 50% of global livestock and 30% of all present grown crops originate from them. This chapter addresses critical research issues needed to maintain soil health in the drylands, including nutrient cycling, preservation of soil biota, carbon sequestration, erosion control, rainwater harvesting and irrigation efficiency. The chapter examines the options for improving dryland soil health and provides a case study from Egypt, as well as looking ahead to future trends in this area and suggesting detailed further reading on the topic.