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Drought Worsens Toxic Minerals In Crop Soil

  

Normally rains help drive salt and other toxic minerals deeper into the soil and away from roots of plants.

When that doesn’t happen, farmers can irrigate a little more. But that may not be an option during this drought.

Greg Norris is a state conservation engineer with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He says even if farmers have enough water to irrigate, the crop might not produce enough to be viable.

“They could look at a different crop that’s more salt tolerant or if they can’t do that they could plant a cover crop that is salt tolerant," says Norris. "They may or may not need to irrigate it but it would at least provide some cover to prevent soil erosion either from wind or water.”

Norris says barley is one crop that’s very salt tolerant. But it’s not just salt that can be a problem.
Without enough water, minerals such as boron and selenium in soils can also damage plants.  

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Amy Quinton

Former Environment Reporter

Amy came to Sacramento from New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) where she was Environment Reporter. Amy has also reported for NPR member stations WFAE in Charlotte, WAMU in Washington D.C. and American Public Media's "Marketplace."  Read Full Bio 

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