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I have a piece of land which has, I guess, large calcium content as it show white deposits in large quantities. I tried to grow various plants on it but could not succeed. The land does not absorb water as fast as the normal soil. Soil remains wet in the inside for a good amount of time.

Wheat ,Rice, Mango Trees failed to grow on it. Please suggest what should I do to make the land fertile ? I am willing to grow anything on it. If there is any chemical solution then I can try that too. Thanks.

EDIT: I checked the soil test reports it said the soil has Ph of 8.5 and white substance is not calcium but soda or Sodium bicarbonate.Please update your answers accordingly. Thanks.

  • How big of an area do you want to plant? – Jurp Jan 16 at 20:48
  • Around 3000 sq ft – SacrificialEquation Jan 16 at 20:50
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According to what you said,

The land does not absorb water as fast as the normal soil. Soil remains wet in the inside for a good amount of time.

It means that your soil has poor infiltration (movement of water is slow), this is a result of lack of pore space. This is common in sodic soil because sodium disperse aggregates which could results in compaction (particularly if the soil is clay-rich). To improve the structure and aggregation of soil, there is only one way, which is to apply a lot of organic amendment (and mix it well) before you plant anything (I would recommend compost). If that's a lot of work then you can do raised bed or some other variations that raises your plants above your original soil.

If you want to lower the pH (depending on which plants you wanna grow), you can add ammonium fertilizers (e.g. ammonium nitrate) which are slightly acidic. Make sure you water a lot to prevent volatilization.

If you want to lower the sodium level permanently (assuming that your water table is not high), you may be able to do so by applying calcium solution which displaces the sodium ion and the water will leach out the sodium ions. (more details can be found here: Managing Sodic Soils). But bear in mind calcium compounds won't help if you also want to lower the pH of the soil. I have a feeling potassium solution might work to displace sodium as well and it is a macronutrient for plants itself (but not entirely sure).

I think a picture or two of your soil and a detailed soil test report would help guide a better solution.

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Make raised bed. The best crops will depend on the depth of the beds. Shallow bed are good for leafy crops like lettuce, deep beds can be used to grow potatoes. First decide on the crop or crops you want to grow. Then do some research on the best types of soil and the depth of the soil you will need for this crop. You can use a generic soil recipes if you want to grow a variety of crops, like mixture of compost and topsoil (not your topsoil).

Unless there is some kind water proof barrier, you should test your soil. You will want to know what you are building on top of. The chemicals in the soil below will leach into the soil you put on top of it. This will help you decide on the type of soil you want to use in your raised beds.

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I would get a soil test before you do anything else. There are plenty of "white chemicals" apart from calcium. Wheat doesn't mind the alkaline pH you would get from chalk (calcium) and chalk doesn't retain moisture.

Since you mention rice and mango, you may be in a part of the world where the groundwater is toxic, in which case nothing much will grow unless you isolate it from the toxicity. But trying to cover the area with a waterproof membrane probably isn't going to work either, since it will prevent drainage from rainfall.

You need to understand what the real problem is before you can fix it.

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What else do other people grow in that area? That might be a good place to start. Couple of questions before answering. How big is the property? Residential or commercial? It sounds like you are trying to grow fruit or vegetable crops, rather than landscaping, and in a zone that's temperate enough to grow mangoes. So far correct? My first idea would be amending with organic materials, but if it's a huge property, that might not be possible for you.

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