Hangs, R. D., Schoenau, J. J., Van Rees, K. C. J. and Steppuhn, H. 2011. Examining the salt tolerance of willow (Salix spp.) bioenergy species for use on salt-affected agricultural lands. Can. J. Plant Sci. 91: 509-517. Dryland salinity is a significant limitation on crop production across the Canadian prairies, with an estimated 4 million ha of salt-affected land. The potential exists to make better use of saline marginal lands by developing them into willow (Salix spp.) plantations as a bioenergy feedstock; however, relatively little is known about the salt tolerance of willow. The objective of this study was to compare the relative salt tolerance of 37 different native and exotic willow varieties grown under controlled environment conditions on soils of varying salinity. The soils were collected from a farm field in south-central Saskatchewan along a hillslope catena influenced by saline seep salinity, containing high concentrations of sulfate salts, which commonly occurs within western Canada. Most willow varieties tested in this study were able to tolerate moderately saline conditions (ECe=5.0 dS m-1). In addition, several varieties (Alpha, India, Owasco, Tully Champion, and 01X-268-015) showed no reduction in growth with severe salinity (ECe=8.0 dS m-1). These results indicate that some willow varieties are quite salt-tolerant and suitable for establishment on salt-affected soils in Saskatchewan and abroad.
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Vol. 91 • No. 3