HIGH-SALTS REMEDIES

What materials can be used to reduce electrical conductivity of dirt?

What are the disadvantages when electrical conductivity increases?

PROBLEM

A high salts condition damages plant root systems with consequential prejudice to the nutrient and water absorption process due to higher osmotic pressure in solution and plasmolysis in plants (i.e., reverse flow of nutrients from plant to soil solution), the reason plants grown in high EC conditions often exhibit stress (wilting) even in moist conditions. Towards the upper end of EC, salts can accumulate in plant tissues, causing salt-toxicity symptoms.

CAUSED BY

Excessive electrical conductivity in soil or dirt is most often caused by

In the main, croplands which use synthetic chemical fertilizers will experience excessive salts buildup over time unless a high rate of irrigation (or rainfall) is consistently applied.

MEASUREMENT METHOD

Measuring salinity in cropland is usually accomplished by

  • digital device which measures in mmhos/cm using a 1:5 soil:water mix (i.e., 1 gram solids in 5 milliliters water)
  • saturation paste extracts which measures in dS/m

MOST COMMON REMEDY

Removing excess salts is the remedy, since no method of neutralizing salts exists. The most common method is excessive irrigation, to leach salts downward or away

  • if enough water is available and
  • the dirt drains well

Applying irrigation water which includes a balanced amount of solubilized calcium/magnesium, or as finely-powdered gypsum in suspension.

ALTERNATIVE METHODS

These methods may present pros and cons in a particular planting situation:

  • Addition of organic matter in the form of well-managed mature/aged compost (which excludes most commercial compost that usually contains high salts) and/or clay from non-coastal saltwater areas, usually mixed with sand for ease of application) can also help by adsorption of cations to alter Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC).
  • install salt-absorbing plants that can grow in such conditions while accumulating salt, then harvest the plants (which may include roots).
  • In spill areas (not cropland) certain large shrubs and trees can help manage saline conditions.
  • Adjusting pH toward acidic can help reduce salinity effects when growing certain types of crops
COMPOST CONTAINMENTS
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COMPOST PILES
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