Comparing yield and growth characteristics of four pastoral plant species under two salinity soil levels
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The vegetation cover and the biomass production of the rangeland ecosystems are decreasing at an alarming rate. The valorization of saline water, by irrigating planted pastoral halophytes on salt‐affected soils, is considered among the valuable tools to increase their production. In this study, the ability of four plant species (Atriplex halimus L. [Amaranthaceae], Atriplex mollis Desf. [Amaranthaceae], Lotus creticus L. [Fabaceae], and Cenchrus ciliaris L. [Poaceae]) to grow is tested in two field plots— low (low salinity plot [LSP]) and high (high salinity plot [HSP]) soil salinity. Canopy cover, dry biomass, and some chemical analyses (ash, nitrogen, and polyphenol contents) are undertaken. Main results show that A. halimus is the most able to grow in the two plots because it shows the greatest covers during the experiment. The covers of others species are low both in LSP and HSP. A. mollis retains the highest dry matter in both LSP (157 and 236 g) and HSP (134 and 153 g) when cutting 1/2 and 2/3 of the aboveground biomass, respectively. A. halimus and A. mollis have the biggest ash content in both LSP (respectively 65 and 67.5 mg g−1 fresh matter) and HSP (112.5 and 100 mg g−1 fresh matter). L. creticus and A. halimus show the highest total nitrogen content in LSP (respectively 26.9 and 26.3 g kg−1 dry matter). All the species reduced their nitrogen in HSP despite the C. ciliaris content that remains constant. In conclusion, the ability of the retained species to grow under high soil salinity is noted. Hence, the saline soils can be rehabilitated by planting well‐targeted pastoral halophytes.