Correcting the Cause of
Poor irrigation water plagues the agricultural industry. As water access becomes scarce, farmers look to shallower wells and less than ideal water quality sources for their irrigation needs. Often times, these water sources are high in sodium, sulfates, nitrates and other salts. Over application of these minerals can be antagonistic to the soil environment and thus require remediation before use.
The accumulation of salts, due to irrigation water or input choice, alters the balance of minerals in the “cloud” surrounding the soil colloid (see soil compaction/dormant program). Ultimately, the continual dosing of salts into the soil environment disperses the soil colloids and creates compaction, which in turn collapses the soil’s pore space. Compaction reduces the water holding capacity of the soil, limits biological activity, and any buffering capacity to high sodium, chlorides, sulfates, and/or nitrates in the soil is depleted. The soil’s small aerobic zone becomes toxic.
Plant growth in these environments is often stunted, with a high demand for external inputs of potassium. These crops typically experience an early onset of necrosis with chlorotic leaf margins. In the Midwest, we often find areas where the dispersed soil colloids erode and accumulate in the low-lying parts of the fields. The soil in these areas has a white crust in the spring and is often dominated with foxtail and kochia, if any crop at all. These areas are merely a symptom of an unhealthy soil environment.
While the soil conditioning/dormant program works to remediate the compaction on these fields and start the healing process, if the underlying cause is not corrected, the problem will continually resurface. Along with instilling a soil conditioning/dormant program to alleviate the excess salts, open up the soil and allow for water and roots to penetrate deeper into the aerobic zone, poor irrigation water and/or sodic parent materials requires continual maintenance with available calcium.
In the arid west where agricultural production relies heavily on irrigation water, correcting the cause requires micro-dosing available calcium multiple times a year. Along with a soil conditioning/dormant program, micro-dosing available calcium counteracts the antagonist effects of the impurities in the irrigation water. It is a necessary input to keep production possible. If avoided, it is only a matter of time before the field input costs outweigh the profit and the soil no longer can support a crop.
When water quality drops, salts accumulate and compaction occurs.
Our salinity program will remediate compaction, but you must also treat the underlying cause, too.
The following are general recommendations for reducing soil compaction, improving water penetration, and managing high salinity irrigation water or sodic soils. Depending on the severity of the irrigation water or sodic soil, multiple applications of the Soil Conditioning/Dormant program may be required as well as micro-dosing GSR Dormant Calcium to treat the irrigation water. THESE ARE GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS it is important to work directly with the Soil Works staff and/or with a trained Soil Works distributor to correctly diagnose your field. Every farm, field and soil type are different, please contact us directly to provide you with the optimum program for your operation. Application rates may vary depending upon your penetrometer readings and the quality of your irrigation water.
90-120 grams GSR Dormant Calcium
2-4 lbs Pure Cane Sugar
2-4 lbs Micronized Soft Rock Phosphate
2-4 gallons Fish Fertilizer
10-15 gallons Bio-5 Soil Conditioner
- Product is intended to be applied post-harvest mixed with water at a minimum application rate of 20 gallons/acre. MORE WATER IS RECOMMENDED. Optimum efficacy is achieved when soil applied and immediately followed with irrigation or before precipitation.
- Direct soil contact is recommended. Enhanced efficacy is achieved when the soil is tilled to a depth of one inch below the aerobic zone or following vertical tillage.
- If applying over a layer of dense mat of crop residue, the products efficacy may be reduced. As the residue decomposes the products applied may be utilized for residue decomposition rather than soil remediation. Multiple dosages may be required as well as increasing the amount of water applied with the product which can help the product reach the soil. Please consult directly with the Soil Works staff before application.
- Application rates vary based on needs of the individual field or soil type. High CEC soils with excess Magnesium and/or Potassium require higher rates for optimum efficacy. Please consult directly with a trained professional for customized application rates.
MICRO-DOSING RECOMMENDATIONS per 1,000,000 gallons of water
1 lb GSR Dormant Calcium
2-4 lbs Pure Cane Sugar
- Application rates vary based on water quality. Please consult directly with a trained professional for customized application rates.