Salts, Sodium, Boron, Chlorides, Water Penetration and Rain
The recent rainfall has surely been needed. In the last few drought years, many soils have lost production potential due to higher salts, sodium, chlorides, boron, bicarbonates and water penetration problems. As a result of plenty of rainfall this year, growers will likely think products such as Hydra-Hume®, Liquid Chisel® and Retention® are not needed and their problems are now solved with all of the rainwater.
Unfortunately, it depends on what soil problem they have and how easily water can move through the soil. Problems with soluble salts, boron and chlorides can be greatly reduced when there is sufficient, good quality irrigation, or rainwater, to move them through the soil profile past the root zone.
If you have sodium problems, or if there is enough soluble calcium in the soil to knock off sodium such as gypsum, sufficient, quality irrigation or rainwater can move sodium through the soil profile past the root zone. It takes 12” water (rain or irrigation) to dissolve 2,000 lbs gypsum.
It takes about 1 ton gypsum/ac in the soil with 12” water (rain or irrigation) to remove an estimated 200 ppm Na in one foot of soil.
If you have lime in the soil, the lime will solubilize if the water (rain or irrigation) is below a pH of 7. Since our rainwater is around pH of 6.7, the rainwater is buffered when it hits our soils, and lime is solubilized; however, very little Ca is made available to help knock off the calcium. Therefore, a product like Liquid Chisel is needed to solubilize the lime and to help move the water through the soil profile and root zone.
Also, if the soil has crusting problems, low infiltration rates or poor water movement through the root zone, products such as Liquid Chisel or Retention can make a big improvement no matter how much water is present. A product such as Retention can be especially helpful to prevent heat and water stress in the growing periods where it is hot and soils around the roots just can’t get enough water moisture.
Our rainfall has helped, but improving soil health, poor water or soil qualities can be greatly helped by the following products:
- Hydra-Hume can improve soil structure to improve water penetration or complex Na.
- Liquid Chisel can solubilize lime in the soil to provide Ca to knock off the sodium and improve water penetration.
- Retention can improve water penetration and improve soil structure to allow for better movement of salts and Na through the soil profile.
- Don Bandoni, Helena Products Manager