Salinity in Agriculture
Salinity problems reduce productivity on both irrigated and non-irrigated agricultural lands in the United States and throughout the world.
Salt-affected soils on Colorado range land. High annual evaporation (and/or transpiration), low annual precipitation and restricted soil drainage, combine to create salt affected soils in depressions or lowlands. As the water evaporates, salts dissolved from the soil deposit and accumulate at the soil surface. Notice the crust of salt deposited on the ground and on the base of the fence post.
In California's Coachella Valley, irrigation applications and sub-surface drain lines are managed to reduce the effects of soil salinity on crop land. Lettuce in the foreground is sprinkler irrigated. Bare patches in the field in the background show localized effects of salinity.
Links to Salinity web sites
USDA-NRCS Water Quality & Quantity Team
Management of Saline/Sodic Soils: Course material from the USDA- NRCS training course, Management of Saline and Sodic Soils (1991), a series of five Training Notes by Dr. James D. Rhoades, USDA-ARS Salinity Laboratory, Riverside, California.
Training Note 1: Determining Soil Salinity in the Field From Measurements of Electrical Conductivity
Training Note 2: Effects of Salts on Soils and Plants
Training Note 3: Assessing the suitability of Saline Water for Irrigation
Training Note 4: Practices to Control Salinity in Irrigated Soils
Training Note 5: Strategies to Facilitate the Use of Saline Waters and to Maximize the Beneficial Use of Multiple Water Supplies for Irrigation
Saline-Seep Diagnosis, Control, and Reclamation: USDA-ARS Conservation Research Report No. 30, Issued May 1983.
USDA-NRCS Soil Quality Institute
Soil Quality Test Kit Guide (click here for Spanish version)
Soil Quality Test Kit Factsheet
Soil Quality Test Kit Excel spreadsheet
The Soil Quality Test Kit Guide (prepared by NRCS and ARS) is an 82-page booklet containing procedures for 12 on-farm tests, an interpretive section for each test, data recording sheets, and a section on how to build the kit. Chapter 5 includes an electrical conductivity test for salinity. See Section II for salt tolerance of selected crops.
USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Program
HortNote No. 5, SALT-AFFECTED SOILS: THEIR CAUSES, MEASURE, AND CLASSIFICATION Before installing salt-tolerant plants or reclaiming a salt-affected site, landowners and managers need good analytical information to create a strong conservation plan. The latest HortNote issue, Number 5, from the Plant Materials Center at Bridger, Montana, examines causes of salt-affected soils, several tests used to measure saltiness, and various classifications of salt-affected soils. Soil salt levels can greatly influence plant survival and growth. The effect of high-salt soils in the Northern Plains and Rocky Mountains, for example, is dramatic. It is estimated that 300,000 acres in Montana alone have been removed from production because of increased salinity. Even soils classified as "slightly saline" are marginally acceptable for many crops. The next issue of HortNote will continue this theme, addressing plant tolerance to salt accumulation.
The HortNote electronic newsletter provides timely information on a variety of plant and conservation horticulture topics, such as windbreak design, installation, protection, and maintenance; species selection; greenhouse operations; plant propagation and production; and native, low maintenance, and xeriscape landscaping. Past issues are available on the Plant Materials Program Web site - select Publications, select Bridger, MT, select Newsletters.
American Society of Civil Engineers
Agricultural Salinity Assessment and Management
(ASCE Manuals and Reports on Engineering Practice No. 71).
Subjects include effects of salts on soil and plants; methods of sampling, monitoring, and measuring salinity; use of saline drainage water in irrigation; methods of managing salinity;
USDA-ARS George E. Brown Salinity Laboratory
Handbook No. 60 Saline and Alkali Soils, Diagnosis and Improvement, 1954
Salinity Assessment Resources
Salt, Chloride and Boron Tolerance of Plants
Assessment of Salinity and Irrigation/Drainage Practices
Salt Tolerance Databases
Lower Colorado Region Salinity Assessment Network
other ARS Salinity Models
click here for descriptions and links to ARS salinity computer models
Colorado River Board of California
Colorado River Board of California
2002 Review of Water Quality Standards for Salinity - Colorado River System
Utah State University
Salinity and Plant Tolerance
Water Salinity and Crop Yield
New Mexico State University
Soil Test Interpretations
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service:
Crop Tolerance to Soil Salinity
North Dakota State University Extension Service:
Salinity and Sodicity in North Dakota
University of California, Davis
Agricultural Salinity and Drainage, Publication #93-01
Irrigation Water Salinity and Crop Production
Water and Soil Salinity Studies on California Rice
Managing Saline, Sodic or Saline-Sodic Soils for Turfgrasses
Estimating Leaching Fraction Requirements
Australian Academy of Science
Monitoring the white death -- soil salinity