It this article we will take a closer look at salty soils and what plants can grow effectively in these salty soils.
First, it is important to understand what a salty soil is. It may not be as common as an acidic soil, but it is still an issue for some land managers. Obviously, as the name implies, salt-affected soils are soils that have been affected by the presence of salts. The process of salt affecting a soil is called salinization. Salinization is a management concern because it affects a plants ability to take up water. If a soil has undergone salinization it will then have a pH above 7. A soil with a pH above 7 can fall into two categories, either a saline soil or sodic soil. A saline soil has excess salts that decrease the soils water potential, making it hard for plants to get water. The sodic soils have too much exchangeable sodium. Most sodic soils are identifiable by a pH above 9, making it hard for plant roots to grow. Some other signs of salt-affected soil besides pH are the presence of salt-tolerant vegetation, increased soil wetness that won’t support equipment, and white crusting on the surface.
What Creates These Soil Types and How to Fix Them
Most salt-affected soils are created because of a bad soil-water balance. A high water table, a high rate of evaporation, or low annual rainfall can all create a bad soil-water balance and create a salt-affected soil. The main way to fix a salt-affected soil is to lower the water table and create a better soil-water balance. This is obviously not very easy to accomplish, so most recommendations suggest altering crop management to deal with a salt-affected soil.
Some high salt tolerant crops include:
Barley, Sugar Beets, Rye, Cow Peas, Soybeans and Wheat