Evaluation of saline-tolerant forage mixtures for establishment, forage yield, and saline soil remediation

Recent estimates of agricultural land on the Canadian prairies suggest that 1 million ha are affected by moderate to severe soil salinity. These areas are not suitable for seeding annual grain crops. Perennial forages have the potential to remediate saline soils through salt ion uptake, lowering the water table, improved soil biological activity, and weed suppression. This project will evaluate establishment and remediation benefits in saline soils with perennial forage mixtures compared to annual grain crops. A field study will be carried out at three saline sites to evaluate the practice of seeding perennial forages with a companion crop. Saline-tolerant forage mixtures will be seeded in saline soil with and without a barley companion crop. The success of establishment will be evaluated by collecting data on plant density, NDVI drone imagery, forage yield and quality, and economic returns. The field component of the study will also assess the potential of forages to remediate saline soils by comparing the quality of pollinator habitat, weed suppression, and soil biological activity to an annual grain crop rotation. A greenhouse experiment will evaluate the performance of forage mixtures with high diversity compared to low diversity in saline soil conditions.

Alex Waldner
Faculty Supervisor: 
Bill Biligetu
Partner University: