Salting the Earth – Counteract Contamination with Calcium Sulfate

“Salting the earth” was a practice of ancient conquering armies. They poisoned farmland with salt so that crops would not grow. To the best of my knowledge, no one has intentionally “salted the earth” for many years. However, there is much unintentional soil contamination. Major sources of contamination include irrigation with saline water, deposition of contaminants from factory smoke stacks and spills of petroleum and other substances.

Lands containing excess sodium produce lower yields than uncontaminated land. The map below was prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Areas shown in yellow, orange and red are contaminated with salts at levels that would likely result in lower crop yields.

Pic Excess salts for Salting the Earth article by Angela Jankousky


EcoGEM produces selenite (also called gypsum or calcium sulfate). Selenite is a naturally occurring mineral that can counteract contamination of soil with salt. This works because the calcium in selenite displaces sodium off the soil exchange complex and lowers the proportion of sodium in the total salts. The salted earth becomes fertile again.
Look for future articles on how selenite can improve crop yields.

Author: Angela Jankousky

Angela Libby Jankousky – EcoGEM’s Director of Research and Communications.  Angela has more than 30 years of experience as an engineer, manager and executive in mining and manufacturing corporations.  Ms. Jankousky holds a B.S. and an M.S. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, both from the University of Illinois, and an M.B.A from the University of Colorado at Denver.