The Potential of Saltgrass as a Forage Grass Irrigated with Saline Water
The objective was to investigate the potential of saltgrass (Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene) native halophyte, as a forage grass when irrigated with saline water. In a sandy loam, water containing 1,250, 2,500, 5,000 and 10,000 mg/L Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) was applied and, in a clay loam, water containing 1,250, 2,500, and 5,000 mg/L TDS was applied.
The sandy loam was more highly salinized than the clay loam soil, from sodium adsorption ratio and electrical conductivity measurements. In the sandy loam soil, mean yields were 3,674 kg/ha. Yields were highest at 2,500 mg/T., and decreased with increasing salinity. Yields were lower at 1,250 mg/L than at 2,500 mg/L due to weed competition. Plant sodium percentage increased and magnesium percentage decreased with increasing salinity. Plant calcium, potassium, phosphorus, crude protein, and in vitro digestibility percentages were generally not affected.
The clay loam was not completely salinized during the experiment. Accordingly, mineral, crude protein, and digestibility percentages, and dry forage yields, were generally not affected by salinity. Mean yields in clay loam were 6,968 kg/ha.
Minerals and crude protein were generally supplied by the saltgrass in adequate amounts for animal nutrition, except phosphorus. Sodium percentages averaged 1.08 %, but were not thought to be detrimental. Digestibility was generally low. Overall, it was concluded that saltgrass has potential to be irrigated with high salinity water when other forages are not available.