The change from deep-rooted grass and shrub vegetation to annual-cropping dryland farming has contributed to serious soil salinization challenges on the semi-arid North American Great Plains. In some cases, cultivation of the Great Plains has increased the availability of water, causing dominant sulfate salts to travel from the uphill areas to depressions where it will surface when water evaporates at the soil surface. A potential solution could include the replanting of the native deep-rooted vegetation, which requires knowledge of the spatial distribution of soil salinity. This study tested the soil factors influencing electromagnetic-induction meter (EM38) readings of soil salinity distribution around wetlands. The objectives were to: (1) predict growth and survival of Salix dasyclados Wimm. (cv. ‘India’) along a salinity gradient in a small wetland, and (2) investigate whether newly established willows affected water-table fluctuations, which would indicate their phreatophytic nature or their ability to obtain their water supply from the zone of saturation. Results indicated significantly lower salinity values for sampling points with EM38 readings above 175 and 250 mS m−1 for height and survival, respectively. In addition, diurnal fluxes of the water table in areas of good willow growth and lower salinity indicated that cultivar ‘India’ was phreatophytic in these areas and therefore has great potential for being used to combat saline seeps.
Hydrogeology Journal – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 4, 2018
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