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Describing for design

Assessing salinity during design of a landscape

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Phase Possible Activities
Phase I: Initial assessment
  • Describe surface geology and landforms
  • Describe and assess land slopes
  • Look for such indications of salinity as patches of bare soil, white, powdery deposits of salt at the soil’s surface, or dead or dying trees
  • Using the Internet and other sources, look up information about the site’s soil types and water sources
  • Look up information about species of plants — both existing species and ones that might be key elements of the landscape’s new design
Phase II: Detailed investigation
  • Dig test pits for examining soil
  • Install piezometers for monitoring the elevation of shallow groundwater
  • Estimate the percentage of land covered by plants
  • Study topographic maps or measure slopes
  • Compile a detailed list of compatible species of plants
  • Use the “feel test” or other field methods to estimate texture of soil
  • Install and use a ring infiltrometer to assess infiltration of water into soil
  • Using both the Internet and your telephone directory, locate horticultural and environmental laboratories in your region. Telephone those labs that seem appropriate for your project and ask about services, advice, support provided, and fees. As needed, also telephone advisors at the UC Extension, USDA–NRCS, or other institutions.
  • Carefully sample water, soil, and plants as needed. Arrange for transport to the selected laboratories
Phase III: Development of design criteria
  • Graph some of the data from laboratory results
  • Write fact sheets, memos, or reports
  • Review reports from similar projects
  • Consult experts to help compile and assimilate information
  • Draft a set of design criteria, then evaluate it, then revise it as needed
  • Study this CD-based Salt Management Guide and other documents intended to help people solve salinity-related horticultural problems, then draft a set of management practices for the landscape being designed
  • Consult experts, as needed, to check soundness of proposed management practices
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