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Successful Restoration of Severely Disturbed Wyoming Lands: Reclamation on salt/sodium-affected soils


Publication #: B-1231
Date Published: 03/19/2012

Publication Author(s):
Jay Norton
Calvin Strom

Reclaiming severely disturbed soils with elevated levels of salt, sodium,or both is difficult. Undisturbed topsoil is often less than 3 inchesthick, but soil salvage operations usually scrape soils to a standard6-inch depth. This mixes surface soils with materials from deeper inthe soil profile that may contain higher salt and/or sodium levels orother toxic materials that inhibit plant growth. Once concentrations insurface soils are elevated, returning them to levels suitable for plantgrowth can be challenging. Several chemical amendments used inagricultural applications work well when irrigation water is availableto dissolve the amendments and leach the salts and sodium below theroot zone. This approach is not feasible in semi-arid regions like muchof Wyoming. Research around the world has demonstrated that addingorganic amendments (compost, manure, or biosolids) to saline/sodicsoils can facilitate reclamation of disturbed sites. In this bulletin, soilamendments and their use in arid environments are examined, andrecommendations are provided.

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