Salinity tolerance of <i>Avena sativa</i> fodder genotypes
Oats (Avena sativa L.) is an important winter season fodder cultivated in many parts of the world. India faces huge shortages of green forage and possesses large salt-affected areas, so identification of salt-tolerant material offers scope for breeding of cultivars for increasing production from salt-affected soils. Forty-eight genotypes of oats comprised of cultivars, germplasm accessions and advanced breeding lines were evaluated with the aim of identifying salt-tolerant genotypes for use on saline soils and/or in programs to breed more salt-tolerant cultivars. Screening was carried out at different growth stages in both pot and field studies. Germination and seedling vigor at different levels of salinity in terms of electrical conductivity (EC), i.e. EC4, EC8, EC12 and EC16, were assessed. Field-level salinity tolerance was assessed in pits where soils had EC ranging from 3.3 to 3.6 dS/m and pH 9.6. Sand culture experiments were carried out on 2 genotypes at different levels of NaCl solution as well as saline soil scrap solution so as to simulate a real field situation. Na, K, Ca and proline concentrations were estimated to understand the mechanism of salinity tolerance of the crop. The study resulted in identification of some suitable genotypes with acceptable levels of salt tolerance, which can be used in developing productive cultivars for saline soils.