Arbor Age

Arbor Age Winter 2015

For more than 30 years, Arbor Age magazine has been covering new and innovative products, services, technology and research vital to tree care companies, municipal arborists and utility right-of-way maintenance companies

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Page 21 of 33

22 WINTER 2015 ARBOR AGE INDUSTRY INSIGHTS BY MICHELLE SUTTON Sodium chloride (NaCl), the same salt that we use to season our food, has been used to deice roadways and sidewalks since World War II. It's cheap, and has made our roadways safer; but its downsides are many, including damage to aquatic life, infrastructure and our trees. Harm to trees results from NaCl accumulation in the soil and/or from salt spray. When you salt a slice of eggplant, you can observe how, via osmosis, water is drawn out of the cells. Salt desiccates trees in the same way. Soil salinity and salt spray damage plants in different ways. In clay soils, salt can contribute to soil compaction because of the way salt molecules bind with clay particles. Compaction reduces the ability of water and oxygen to move through soils and be taken up by roots. Also, salt in the soil is taken up by tree roots with myriad negative consequences — from failure to leaf out to marginal leaf necrosis. By contrast, salt spray most commonly kills buds, resulting in twig or branch dieback or "witches broom," which occurs when side shoots emerge to compensate for apical bud death. Many environmental groups and municipalities are seeking alternatives to NaCl — from potassium chloride to urea to beet juice. Dr. Glynn Percival, plant physiologist and technical support specialist at the Bartlett Research Laboratory in Reading, U.K., has researched and published papers on many facets of salt damage. (Surprisingly, given the extent of damage NaCl can do, Percival has very few colleagues doing this kind of research). As to NaCl alternatives, Percival said, "There Protecting Trees against the Ravages of Deicing Salt PHOTO BY MICHELLE SUTTON Marginal leaf necrosis/"burn" can be caused by soil salinity or salt spray.

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