How to Interpret Salinity Test Results

Salt crusting on soil in a high tunnel carrot bed

Image Credit: Neith Little, UMD Extension

February 10, 2021
By Neith Little , and Andrew Ristvey

High tunnels or hoop houses are popular season-extension tools used by urban farmers, vegetable producers, and cut flower growers. 

One of the benefits of growing in a high tunnel is that it protects crops from excessive rain and keeps their leaves dry, which can reduce the spread of disease. However, soaking rains serve the beneficial purpose of leaching salt accumulated from fertilizers, compost and minerals in the irrigation water down below the root zone. Over time, a lack of soaking rains can result in a build-up of minerals in high tunnel soil, increasing the soil’s salinity. Sometimes a build-up of these minerals appears as a white crust on the surface of high tunnel soil.

This new peer-reviewed Extension factsheet, written by Neith Little and Dr. Andrew Ristvey, provides guidance on monitoring and interpreting salinity in high tunnels. 

The factsheet is publically available here:   https://extension.umd.edu/learn/publications/salinity-matters-high-tunnels-and-growing-media-how-interpret-salinity-test