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Agricultural crops take up water, but not salt, and evaporation from irrigated land does likewise. The result is increasing salt levels in soils. Just as cities cannot ignore urban wastewater collection and treatment, irrigating farmers and irrigation districts cannot ignore what to do with the salt in agricultural drainage water.
Although salt management techniques can seem straightforward, the long-term sustainability of irrigation in arid and semi-arid areas, where most irrigation takes place remains a challenge. Salt-induced land degradation is on the rise in several major river basins. Salt-affected lands remain valuable resources that cannot be easily abandoned, given their importance for food security and regional economies, as well as the signifi cant investments in infrastructure that have been made on these lands. This policy note discusses the status of salt-induced land degradation and addresses two key questions: Why has progress been so limited in addressing salt- induced land degradation? And what measures could be taken to prevent and reverse such degradation?