Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI) is a premier research institute dedicated to pursue interdisciplinary research on salinity/ alkalinity management and use of poor quality irrigation waters in different agro-ecological zones of the country. The Govt. of India constituted an Indo-American Team to assist the Indian Council of Agricultural Research to develop a comprehensive water management programme for the country. As a follow up of these recommendations, it was decided to establish the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute under Fourth Plan period. The Institute started functioning at Hisar (Haryana) on 1st March, 1969. Later on, it was decided to shift this Institute to Karnal during October, 1969. In February 1970, the Central Rice Research Station, Canning Town, West Bengal was transferred to CSSRI, Karnal to conduct research on problems of coastal salinity. Another Regional Research Station for carrying out research on problems of inland salinity prevailing in the black soil region of western parts of the country started functioning at Anand (Gujarat) from February, 1989. As per recommendation of the QRT, the station was shifted from Anand to Bharuch in April 2003. Keeping in view the need of undertaking research for situations under surface drainage congestion, high water table conditions, relatively heavy textured soils, and indurated pan for managing alkali soils of Central and Eastern Gangetic Plains, another Regional Station was established during October, 1999 at Lucknow. The Coordinating Unit of AICRP on Management of Salt Affected Soils and Use of Saline Water in Agriculture is located at the Institute with a network of eight research centres located in different agroecological regions of the country (Agra, Bapatala, Bikaner, Gangawati, Hisar, Indore, Kanpur and Tiruchirapalli). The Coordinating Unit of AICRP on Water Management functioned at the Institute from early seventies till it was shifted to Rahuri (Maharastra) in 1990.
The Institute has grown into an internationally recognised esteemed centre of excellence in salinity research. Multidisciplinary research activities at the main institute are being strengthened through four research divisions The major research activities in the Division of Soil and Crop Management include preparation and digitization of database on salt affected soils besides periodic assessment of state of soil resources, developing technologies for the optimal management of gypsum amended alkali soils and the use of high RSC and saline waters for crop production. In the post reclamation phase, focus is on developing resource conservation technologies and development of farming system models for resource poor farmers. Agroforestry on salt affected soils is another area of focus besides the production and evaluation of bio-fuel and bio-energy efficient plants from salt affected soils. Development and propagation of individual farmer based groundwater recharge technologies, subsurface drainage for amelioration of waterlogged saline soils and decision support systems for ground water contaminations are some of the major issues being addressed in the Division of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering. Development of high yielding genotypes of rice, wheat and mustard tolerant to salinity, alkalinity and waterlogging stresses by following conventional breeding and modern molecular and physiological approaches are the major concerns of the Division of Crop Improvement. The Division of Technology Evaluation and Transfer is studying constraints in the adoption of land reclamation technologies and their impact on rural development.
The Institute has developed technologies for the reclamation of alkali soils with the addition of chemical amendments, reclamation of saline soils through subsurface drainage, development and release of salt tolerant crop varieties of rice, wheat and mustard and the reclamation of salt affected soils through salt tolerant trees. As such, nearly 1.5 million ha salt affected lands have been reclaimed and put to productive use. It has been estimated that reclaimed area is contributing more than 15 million tonnes foodgrains to the national pool. For waterlogged saline soils, subsurface drainage technology developed by the Institute initially for Haryana has been widely adopted and replicated in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra and Karnataka. About 60,000 ha waterlogged saline areas have been reclaimed using this technology. Artificial groundwater recharge is another area of interest for regions with depleting wter table. Besides, the technologies are also being developed for the salt affected areas of vertisols and coastal regions of the country. An International Training Centre to impart training at national and international level was established during 2001 under Indo-Dutch collaborative research programme. The Institute has developed Post Graduate Education programme in association with State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and other Universities, which has contributed to the growth of the Institute substantially.
The Institute has several national and international projects to fund its research and development activities. The notable programmes include: IRRI sponsored rice improvement programme, ACIAR sponsored programme for wheat improvement and IRRI, Philippines and CIMMYT, Mexico sponsored programme of cereal based systems. Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal has created state of the art facilities of sodic and saline micro-plots. Depending upon the objectives, desired stress levels of sodicity and salinity can be created in this facility for screening and better genotypic comparisons. Similarly, an environmentally controlled glass house facility is in place for growing crops and screening their genetic resources during off-season. This allows precise screening under saline hydroponics and advancement of breeding generation. Transgenic Green House facility has been created at CSSRI in the year 2008 under Indo-US ABSPII program. A central laboratory with modern equipments has been established at the institute.
- Identify the nature and characteristics of salinity/water quality problems and areas prone to salinity development in a GIS framework.
- Undertake strategic and adaptive research to manage salinity related problems at different scales and develop options for preventing land degradation due to excess salts based on better understanding of salt and water balances.
- Develop national level network of salinity related activities and provide funding support to address location specific problems.
- Research capacity building for prevention, control and management of salinity problems.
Generating new knowledge and understanding of the processes of reclamation and developing technologies for improving and sustaining productivity of salty lands and waters.
Productive utilization of salt affected soils and poor quality water resources in varying agro-ecological situations.