The area under arid conditions in Mexico is greater than 50%. This area faces a high risk due to environmental effects. The soil degradation in arid, semi‐arid, and dry sub‐humid areas is of multi‐causal nature, among which climatic and anthropogenic factors stand out. At least, three distinct elements with different effects may be considered: recurrent droughts in short periods, long‐term climate fluctuations, and degradation of soils by human activities. These threaten the productivity and sustainability of ecosystems and agro‐ecosystems. Thus, it is needed to maintain a constant exploration of new and more appropriate technologies that promote the efficient use of natural resources, in a framework of greater sustainability. Many of these technologies are focused toward better management of water and soil resources in production systems. Water management is oriented with rainwater harvesting, efficient irrigation systems, as well as soil moisture retention techniques, and the use of plant species tolerant to water stress. Planting of native species and using soil improvers of edaphic moisture retention can enhance reclamation (recovery) of degraded soils. The aim of this chapter is to show and discuss some experimental results using the above technologies applied to rangelands with degraded soils in dry lands.
Part of the book: New Perspectives in Forage Crops
In Mexico, the grassland represents 40.1% of the total area of the country and it is a source of feed for livestock, although suffers different degrees of degradation due to lack of management and adverse climatic conditions. The problem of the grasslands is complex since it involves diverse type’s soils, presence of invasive plants, low success in the establishment of grasses or replanting, high fluctuation in the rainfall distribution, as well as the low capacity of the soil to retain moisture. Among these constraints, the limited availability of soil moisture in arid conditions, makes these areas more fragile to the degradation of the environment which results in low productivity of the grassland. In this chapter, major ecological limitations of the grassland and techniques which improve the soils moisture retention capacity of the grassland especially in moisture deficit areas will be discussed.
Part of the book: Grasses as Food and Feed
Droughts are common in arid areas. These cause important losses in crop production, while the increasing population demands more food and goods. Cultivars able to produce under drought conditions are required to avoid or reduce production losses. Plants have evolved different mechanisms to face drought, and many genes have been already discovered in model and cultivated plants that are involved in this trait. Some of these genes have been successfully transformed into cultivated plants for drought tolerance. Plants native to arid lands may possess variants of drought tolerance mechanisms as compared to mesophytic or model plants. Also, different drought-related genes can be revealed. Studies using high-throughput and bioinformatic tools may allow to discover new genes and give new insights on the mechanisms involved in drought tolerance. However, still scarce studies in plants native to arid lands show that there are many drought-related genes that have not been already characterized and potentially they may be novel genes. These novel genes may be used to improve crops for drought tolerance. Therefore, more physiological, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic studies are needed on plants native to the deserts.
Part of the book: Drought