The excess accumulation of soluble salts cause salinity issues on both irrigated and non-irrigated fields. The detrimental effects of high salinity content soil include poor seed germination, stunted crop growth, reduction in yield potential, and erosion (Figure 1). Saline soil management and mitigation can be addressed with proper identification and preparation methods.
Salt-affected areas are characterized by white salt crusts on the soil surface. Reduced yield potential can occur if the crop isn’t able to obtain adequate water needs from the saline soil. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) considers salinity to be a resource problem when the soil electrical conductivity exceeds the level at which crop yields decline by 10 percent or more.1
Soil tests should be utilized to diagnose and determine the severity of salinity. Discoloration and stunting of crops caused by a saline soil is often misconceived as a fertility issue. Saline soils cannot be completely reclaimed by chemical adjustment, conditioner, or fertilizer. Saline soil issues can also be caused by high levels of salt in irrigation water. Therefore, soil and water tests are important to correctly identify soil issues. Your local Channel® brand agronomist or seedsman can analyze soil and water tests to help place tolerant seed products to help reduce the impact of affected areas.
Saline soil reclamation involves the application of an appropriate amount of quality water to thoroughly leach excess salts from the soil. The water should be added in sequential applications, allowing time for the soil to drain after each application.2 The quantity of water necessary for reclamation varies depending on salt level, irrigation water quality, and method of water application.2
If proper management and mitigation procedures are utilized early, correcting issues with saline soil can be simpler and less expensive throughout the growing season.
1 Managing soil salinity in agriculture. 2012. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/home/?cid=nrcs144p2_065177.
2 Lamond, R.E. and Whitney, D.A. 1992. Management of saline and sodic soils. MF-1022. Soil Management. Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service. https://www.coffey.k-state.edu/crops-livestock/crops/soils_fertility/Saline%20and%20Sodic%20Soils.pdf.
Web sources verified 6/14/22.