T Yano and S Wang Introduction

Desertification in arid regions is caused mainly by misuse of soil and water resources. In the 1960s, the intensive land development program in the Aral Sea region promoted by the former Soviet Union, triggered a series of environmental and socioeconomical problems. In Kazakstan, economical gains in cultivating agricultural crops on the original pastoral land by using water from the Syr Darya and Amu Darya Rivers have been achieved at a great expense, degradation of the environment in these river basins. In the Kzyl Orda region, rice cropping is popular and the total rice area in the region is about 93,000 ha, which is equivalent to 36% of the total irrigated area.1 Due to inappropriate water management, however, salt accumulation has occurred in farmlands, resulting in the increase of abandoned lands. It is estimated that, in the Kzyl Orda region of Kazakstan, about 60% to 70% of the total irrigated area has been salt-affected. Since salt accumulation in abandoned lands worsens the soil environment of surrounding cultivated lands due to salt transport, they should be reclaimed as much as possible. Although reclamation research and practice has a long history throughout many areas of the world, there is a great necessity to establish site-oriented techniques because of the diversities in the climate, composition of soil parent material, soil texture, salt types, and drainage conditions in the targeted area.

Even after salt-affected lands are improved through reclamation practices, they are subject to secondary salinization, provided suitable management measures are not taken. In this paper, we discuss the situation of salt accumulation in the Kzyl Orda region, a reclamation study aimed at achieving the optimum reclamation techniques for this region, and a soil permeability study to clarify the effect of water quality on hydraulic conductivity, information necessary to improve current water and soil management to avoid secondary salinization of reclaimed lands.

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