Following several years of abundant rain and snow that left potholes in many fields and raised the water table, many fields throughout the region are starting to show trouble areas in the form of white crusted dirt.
(Chris Augustin, NDSU Soil Health Specialist) "This soil used to be black at one time but because of the evaporation and high water tables it's turned salty."
Chris August-een Augustin is a soil health specialist at the North Central Research Center South of Minot.
Augustin says it's a natural brew recipe that turns soil essentially stale.
(Chris Augustin, NDSU Soil Health Specialist) "Calcium, magnesium, sulfates, sodium and chloride salts that we're dealing with."
Augustin says there are salt tolerant crops like sunflowers and barley but long term water management for that field is the best solution to turning that white crust back into workable black dirt.
(Chris Augustin, NDSU Soil Health Specialist) "Whether it's putting some sort of perennial crops to soak up some of that water and as that water table moves down, the salts move down with it or in a lot of instances a lot of people are looking at tile drainage is getting kind of popular and a lot of talk is going on in that where that will leach salt down in the soil profile."
One common mistake Augustin says is plowing up the ground to get rid of weed growth that can run rampant is saline soil.
(Chris Augustin, NDSU Soil Health Specialist) "Not a good thing because you're increasing your evaporation and as you increase your evaporation the salt accumulations can happen faster."
Augustin recommends just mowing the weeds to keep them from going to seed.
That will at least allow vegetation to utilize the water in that area to help leach the salt lower into the soil profile.
Saline Soil has taken years to accumulate and producers need to keep in mind it a problem that won't go away over night and could take years to bring back to optimal production.
And the sooner a management plan is put in place for a developing area, the better chance a farmer has to minimize it's affect on an entire field.
South of Minot with Your Eye On Agriculture, Shaun Sipma KX News.