Soil salinity has been rocking the Canadian Prairies for years. In the early 2000s, the federal government estimated over 22 million acres of land in the region were affected by some level of salinity, and it remains an issue today causing reduced yield and in extreme cases, areas where crops cannot be grown.
Salinity is a particular issue in the Prairies because of moisture deficits, high annual evaporation rates, and naturally occurring mineral salts in ground water. Certain agricultural practices like summerfallow, irrigation, and intense tillage can also worsen soil salinity.
Luckily, BrettYoung has a forage blend for that.
BrettYoung Forage Account Manager for Alberta, Kent Price, said BrettYoung has a stock blend for most soil salinity situations, and also offers custom blends tailored by our Regional Account Managers (RAMs) to meet the specific needs of each customer.
“Within our portfolio, we have lots of grasses and a saline alfalfa that are all capable of making mixes that do well in saline situations,” he said.
Price said our most used saline blends are:
- #3 – Saline Hay Blend – An alfalfa and grass hay mix for moderate saline land.
- #24 – All Purpose Saline – A quick establishing blend for reclaiming moderate to high saline land overtime.
- #25 – All Grass Saline – An all-grass blend for moderate saline pastures or all grass hay.
Our 2024 Forage Guide also has salinity ratings for each product, with low meaning the product is not suitable for saline soils and high meaning it is. Certain products don’t lend themselves well to salt tolerance at all, like Timothy and Orchardgrass, but are perfect for other scenarios.
Our key product, Price said, is AC Saltlander because it’s truly one-of-a-kind.
“It’s very saline-tolerant and really high-quality grass,” he said. “With saline tolerant products, a lot of time the grasses don’t grow well, and the forage quality isn’t that good. AC Saltlander is very saline tolerant, and it produces high quality forage.”
But before jumping into selecting a blend, there are questions to ask yourself first:
- What is the intended use of the crop? Is it for dry hay, silage, bales, or pasture?
- Which type of animal is going to be eating the crop? Will it be cow/calf pairs, dairy cows, or horses?
- How many cuts do you want out of the crop?
- When do you want the feed from this crop to be available?
- What type of soil are you seeding in?
- Does the field have drainage issues making the soil wet or dry? Does it have salinity issues? Does it have pH issues?
Price said growers should note legumes typically aren’t suitable to saline ground, with the exception of saline-tolerant alfalfa, because they lose productivity very fast.
“A lot of saline ground tends to be ground that floods lots too which can eliminate the use of alfalfa because it doesn’t take flooding as well as grass does,” Price noted.
Land with salinity issues typically have low spots where water has receded to. Price said if you see white salts on the soil surface, that’s also a good indicator, along with land that won’t produce a crop or loses productivity for no plain reason. The best way to know for sure, though, is by soil testing your land for salt content.
If it turns out you do have soil salinity issues, go to your BrettYoung RAM.
“Our RAMs will assist you in coming up with a saline solution that’s suitable for the piece of land that you’re trying to grow,” said Price.
To learn more about BrettYoung’s forage stock blends and our salinity-specific options, go to brettyoung.ca/stock-blend-selector.