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Salinization is one of the most serious problems confronting sustainable agriculture in semi-arid and arid regions. Accurate mapping of soil salinization and the associated risk represent a fundamental step in planning agricultural and remediation activities. Geostatistical analysis is very useful for soil quality assessment because it makes it possible to determine the spatial relationships between selected variables and to produce synthetic maps of spatial variation. The main objective of this paper was to map the soil salinization risk in the Delia-Nivolelli alluvial basin (south-western Sicily, southern Italy), using multivariate geostatistical techniques and a set of topographical, physical and soil hydraulic properties. Elevation data were collected from existing topographic maps and analysed preliminarily to improve the estimate precision of sparsely sampled primary variables. For interpolation multi-collocated cokriging was applied to the dataset, including textural and hydraulic properties and electrical conductivity measurements carried out on 128 collected soil samples, using elevation data as auxiliary variable. Spatial dependence among elevation and physical soil properties was explored with factorial kriging analysis (FKA) that could isolate and display the sources of variation acting at different spatial scales. FKA isolated significant regionalised factors which give a concise description of the complex soil physical variability at the different selected spatial scales. These factors mapped, allowed the delineation of zones at different salinisation risk to be managed separately to control and prevent salinization risk. The proposed methodology could be a valid support for land use and soil remediation planning at regional scale.
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