Salt has a well-earned bad reputation. History tells us the Greeks salted the fields of Carthage, destroying their ability to grow crops. And as a topping for fries and other foods, too much salt can cause health issues. But salt is also vital for livestock health. When it comes to using salt on your farm or garden, it’s important to be careful and follow the advice of the pros.
Soil Salinization is a Real Thing
In the Northwest, salt does not build up in the soil as much as other regions of the continent, all thanks to our rain and snow. But if the ground does contain too much salt, salinization can prevent plants from getting enough water. If you’re continually watering your plants and they are not getting enough moisture, you might have too much salt in your soil. To know for sure, send a sample off to be tested.
Testing Your Soil
According to the Oregon State University Extension Service, soil samples should include pH and nutrient levels. This will give you an adequate reading of the salt in your soil. If your soil contains high levels of salt, consult a specialist to help balance it.
Using Salt in the Garden
One of the most straightforward uses of salt is to deter slugs and snails. Lightly sprinkling a line around leafy plants can help keep them at bay. However, keep the salt to a minimum as you can offset the salt levels in your soil. In some cases, acid-loving plants can thrive with minimal traces of salt mixed with water. These plants include azaleas, rhododendrons, hibiscus, and roses.
Washington State University Extension has published some tips on how to sparingly use salt, along with plenty of precautions in the report Epsom Salt Use in Home Gardens and Landscapes.
Salt on the Farm
Oregon State University, Washington State University, and University of Idaho have jointly published a report titled Managing Salt-affected Soils for Crop Production. In it, you’ll find insights into why excessive salt in irrigated soils can cause issues.
Not all salt is bad, however. Livestock relies on salt. In the wild, animals will find and remember where salt deposits are located and return over and over again as needed. The animals on your farm rely on you for their salt intake. Check out our article Giving Minerals and Supplements to Your Livestock for more information about what kind of salt livestock need, how much, and how often.
Coastal has Everything the Country Needs
You’ll find everything you need for your yard, garden, farm, and livestock at your Northwest owned and operated Coastal. That includes Vitalix for your animals, and answers for all of your questions.