Calcium & Environmental Stresses: Salt

A few shakes makes steak or French fries taste better. And who doesn’t like a bowl of salty popcorn? Your crops, however, don’t like salt. Crops thrive on a “low salt diet”. Crops grow better and produce greater yields with higher quality in low-salt soil and low-salt water.

Salts make the water in the soil less available to crop roots. Crops must work harder to extract the water so crops wilt even though there may be plenty of water in the soil. Soil salts are composed of the cations and anions found in the soil. Some salts may be essential crop nutrients such as nitrate (NO3-), sulfate (SO4=), potassium (K+) or magnesium (Mg2+). Other salts such sodium (Na+) may have detrimental effects on soil structure and crops.


Increasing levels of salt in soil greatly reduced water uptake, in this case lettuce took up less than half as much water when the soil was salty.



Increasing salinity dramatically reduced strawberry growth and reduced berry yield and quality.

Applying supplemental calcium can help the crop manage the salinity stress. The figure below shows how salinity reduced water uptake but, with added calcium, the crop was able to continue to take up water.


How does calcium help crops overcome salinity stress? Calcium plays several key roles in crop nutrition; one of the most important is that calcium contributes to greater cell wall and membrane integrity. Plants that are well-supplied with calcium have more robust cell walls and membranes and suffer less injury from salts.

This is clearly shown from strawberry research. Salinity stress weakened the cell membranes and there was a marked increase in cell leakage as shown in the photo and in the figure below. Supplying additional calcium with the same salinity stress increased the cell membrane integrity and there was no salt-induced cell leakage.




Benefits of YaraLiva Calcium Nitrate

How do you ensure that your crops have all the calcium they need to manage heat stress? YaraLiva Calcium Nitrate is the ideal choice to provide your crop with calcium.

Fertilizers like YaraLiva CAN-17 or CN-9 have typically been used early in the spring to provide crops with readily available nitrate-N when soil and air temperatures are cool. However, the soluble calcium in YaraLiva CAN-17 and CN-9 also plays a key role in helping crops overcome environmental stresses such as heat, water, salinity, and sodicity. YaraLiva products are part of a season-long fertilizer program that supports optimal yield and quality.


Eddie Muro
Eddie Muro
Sales Agronomist

Central Coastal California

Patricia Dingus
Patricia Dingus
Regional Sales Manager

Central Coastal California

sebastian korob
Sebastian Korob
Regional Market Development Manager