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  • Box 87
  • Milk River, AB T0K 1M0
403-647-2127  (Ken)
403-647-2027  (Office)

Saline Reclamation Solutions

There are over 5.5 million acres of severely salt affected land in Western Canada. When this saline land is in annual crop production, crop yields are often so low that the cost of seed, fertilizer and herbicides are not even covered. Money is lost not made.

Establishing salt tolerant forages on saline soils not only stops the wasting of inputs, it can also result in marginal soils producing valuable feed.

“Watching the yield monitor on your combine at harvest gives you a good idea as to the effect of salinity on crop yields”

As Dave Hoffer farm boss at New Rockport Colony says.

“If salinity is reducing yield then you are much further ahead to square off those areas, seed them down to salt tolerant forages like NewHY and stop losing money”

When choosing a forage mixture to grow in salt affected areas;

  1. Select a forage mixture that will grow in the salt, soil and moisture conditions present in your field.

  2. Select a mixture that will meet the needs you have for forage. Is the forage going to be used for hay, pasture, or do you just want it to prevent the movement of weeds into the surrounding land and minimize the spread of salinity.
Relative Tolerance of Forages to Salinity and Flooding;

Perennial Forages For Saline, Flooded and Peat Soils
(Based on Test Results from Canada Salt Tolerance Labs at Swift Current)

Forage Variety Almost Always Frequently Infrequently Rarely Tolerates Flooding 2-5 weeks
AC Saltlander Green Wheatgrass X X X X X X X X
Tall Wheatgrass X X X X X
NewHy Hybrid Wheatgrass X X X X X X
Russian Wild Rye X X X
Slender Wheatgrass X X X
Intermediate Wheatgrass X X X
Tall Fescue X X X X X X X
Smooth Bromegrass X X X
Awned Wheatgrass X X
Creeping Foxtail X X X X X
Northern Wheatgrass X X X X
Western Wheatgrass X X
Orchard Grass X X
Alfalfa X X X X
Timothy X X X
  1. Approximate Salinity Rating as Compared with Visual Ratings:
(Adapted from: “Revegetation of Saline Soils Using Salt Tolerant Grasses” Sask Forage Council. Acknowledgement given to Saskatchewan Forage Council, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.)

Steps to successful Saline forage establishment:

  1. Proper seed bed preparation:
    • Control of perennial weeds like Dandelion, Canada Thistle, Quackgrass, and Foxtail barley should be done the year before attempting to establish a perennial forage.
    • The seed bed should be firm and free of clods.
    • If zero till seeding, ensure trash and past plant residue is properly spread.

  2. Proper timing for seeding forages in saline areas:
    Optimum time for seeding forages is early spring (April and first half of May), however because saline areas are often flooded in the spring early season seeding may not be possible. In these areas late summer (end of August to mid September) or dormant seeding in late November should be considered.

  3. Proper seeding depth for forage in saline areas:
    Forages sown into saline areas should be seeded shallow, 0.5 to 0.75 inches, and seeders with narrow aggressive packers should be avoided as these can produce trenches in the soil that wash in, or result in crusting, limiting emergence.

  4. Minimize weed competition:
    Saline areas often have large weed seed banks in the soil. These weeds will germinate along with your newly seeded forages. Any steps you take to minimize competition from these weeds, by mowing or using appropriate herbicides, will increase the vigor of your forage stand.

  5. Consider “top up seeding” weak forage stands in saline areas:
    The old adage “bird in the hand is worth two in a bush” definitely applies to saline forage establishment. Because of adverse seeding conditions, it may be worth while to leave a partially established stand and try to top up with more seed in the future, rather than killing off and starting from scratch.
Credit: Proven Seeds
to income depleting Saline Areas
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