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ARS Home » Plains Area » Brookings, South Dakota » Integrated Cropping Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #266249

Title: Assessment of salt tolerant plants to remediate saline soils

item Hemenway, Jeffrey
item Boltz, Stanley
item Riedell, Walter

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/11/2011
Publication Date: 7/17/2011
Citation: Hemenway, J., Boltz, S., Riedell, W.E. 2011. Assessment of salt tolerant plants to remediate saline soils. Soil and Water Conservation Society, 66th International Annual Conference, Washington DC, July 17-20, 2011.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Soil salinity has intensified in the James River valley in east central South Dakota in the past 20 years. Surface evaporation on poorly drained and subirrigated soils leaves salts on the soil surface. Replacing evaporation from the soil surface with transpiration through deep-rooted salt-tolerant perennial plant species may help remediate soil salinity by utilizing excess soil moisture which, in turn, will help leach salts through the soil profile. Two experimental approaches were used to test this concept. The first was to evaluate perennial plant establishment and growth in a saline soil while making time-course soil salinity measurements. Seventeen species were seeded in November 2009 in a saline landscape near Parkson, SD. Electrical conductivity (dS/m) in the top 2.5 cm of the soil profile ranged from 2 (slightly saline) to 16 (very strongly saline). Tall wheatgrass, Nutall’s alkaligrass and streambank wheatgrass showed good establishment and early growth while other species had poor establishment. Soil salinity appeared to be unchanged during the first year. The second experimental approach was to identify plant species that germinate under saline conditions. A laboratory assay was developed and used to evaluate germination of 30 perennial species in a soil with an EC ranging from 2 to 14 dS/m. Russian wildrye and tall wheat grass germinated at 14 dS/m while streambank wheatgrass, Nutall alkaligrass, slender wheatgrass, and switchgrass (‘Dakota’ and ‘Timber’) germinated at 11 dS/m. The laboratory assay correctly identified the 3 species that grew under saline conditions in the field as well as several other species that merit further field evaluation.