Soil Sense
Soil Sense
Mar 1, 2021
Managing Salinity and Sodicity
Play • 23 min

Over 90% of producers in North Dakota are experiencing some sort of reduced productivity as a result of salinity. This problem is not unique to North Dakota - it’s happening in many of our most productive agricultural regions. The second problem that we’re going to discuss today, is a separate problem, but in many cases, even more difficult to manage, sodicity. Sodicity can also impede progress in solving salinity issues. Salinity and sodicity are different soil chemistries and require different management strategies. We discussed these topics on our panel at the DIRT Workshop.

Today you’ll hear from:

  • Naeem Kalwar, Extension Soil Health Specialist at North Dakota State University
  • Dr. Cheryl Reese, Senior Lecturer in agronomy at South Dakota State University

“The reason we need to care about soil salinity and for that matter sodacity too….is because we lose hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on these kind of spots.” - Naeem Kalwar

With the amount of expense necessary to farm ground including gas prices, land prices, inputs and seed prices, having certain sections that represent a net loss can be detrimental to finances.  There are corrections that can be made to improve those soils, improving their profitability and move present salts deeper to cause less harm to crops. Naeem suggests first soil sampling to identify what crops and practices will be most successful in those specific areas.

“Across South Dakota and North Dakota, we have very similar soils and these areas pop up because we have old salty sediments that are from old formations. And if these formations are close to the surface and we have a high water table, then these salts will always come back up to the surface.” - Dr. Cheryl Reese

Dr. Reese highlights the benefits of using perennial salt tolerant grasses to improve erosion and salt concerns while still producing a usable crop. She suggests contacting your local NRCS to get more guidance and assistance with that measure. Dr. Reese also echoes Naeem by emphasizing the importance of soil testing to identify the specific issue and its severity before discussing mitigation practices such as switching crops, adding tiles or adding amendments.

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Naeem Kalwar, Extension Soil Health Specialist at North Dakota State University and Dr. Cheryl Reese, Senior Lecturer in agronomy at South Dakota State University
  • Learn about the harmful effects of salinity and sodicity and what practices can be used to better manage areas affected by these issues
  • Explore the potential benefits and limitations of adding tiles and additives to correct salinity and sodicity concerns

Connect with Soil Sense:

Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

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