Producers taking part in a Forage Agronomy Workshop had a chance to learn more about Soil salinity and seeding options.
Most crops and forages will grow on slight to moderate salinity, barley and canola are the most tolerant crops in more saline soils, and for areas that are white with salt, you’re pretty much limited to grasses.
Ken Wall is an Agronomist with Pioneer Co-op Ag Team and has some basic tips for producers to keep in mind when looking at establishing forages:
"Make sure your land is clean and has a firm seedbed," he said. "I really stress that you have a firm seedbed. When you're walking on it after you've got it packed, your feet, your heels should not sink more than a quarter inch, and then make sure that you have good packing and good seed to soil contact."
Producers looking at seeding forages this year will probably want to seed early or wait until we are moving into a wet cycle.
He notes if you seed the end of April, generally you don’t need a lot of water if seeding into wet soil, adding grass is fairly resilient once it catches.
Wall says for producers dealing with saline soils, what they plant will vary depending on the level of salinity:
"When you look at the slight to moderate you've got the most options," he said. "You can grow annual crops, and you can grow forages that you pretty well have the whole gamut of crops that you can seed. Once you get to more saline lands, the most tolerant annual crops basically are barley and canola. Areas that are white pretty consistently are pretty well limited to growing grasses, and we like to see people grow bunch grasses that seem to be able to take over and seem to be able to compete with foxtail barley."
He notes grasses that do well in some of the more saline soils are AC Saltlander green wheatgrass, smooth brome, tall wheatgrass, and tall fescue.