Salty Language

Like a fair number of other folks involved in agriculture on the Northern Plains, I’ve used the term “alkali” to describe fields crusted with salt. It’s the term we’ve always heard, and so we’ve used it, too.

But a speaker at a recent soil health workshop made a good and important point: “saline soils” and “sodic soils” are different things. Dealing with these problem soils requires them to be diagnosed properly, and that means no lumping them together under a single, misleading name.

So I’ve banished  “alkali” from my ag vocabulary and replaced it with “saline soils” (too much salt) and “sodic soils” (too much sodium). It’s a change for the better.