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whm1974
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Salting the Earth, was this actually done?

Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:35 pm

Due to another poster mentioning this in a different Thread, I wanted to have a talk about this. I heard this phrase back when I was kid. I wasn't sure if anyone done this for real due to Salt being really expensive during most of Human History. And of course it was quite often Feast and Famine as well because of Crop failure among other things.

Even as I kid I knew this....
https://allthetropes.org/wiki/Salt_the_Earth
 
cphite
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Re: Salting the Earth, was this actually done?

Fri Sep 11, 2020 3:21 pm

whm1974 wrote:
Due to another poster mentioning this in a different Thread, I wanted to have a talk about this. I heard this phrase back when I was kid. I wasn't sure if anyone done this for real due to Salt being really expensive during most of Human History. And of course it was quite often Feast and Famine as well because of Crop failure among other things.

Even as I kid I knew this....
https://allthetropes.org/wiki/Salt_the_Earth


It was, but not on the scale you're thinking...

There were some rare examples of land owned by specific people or families being salted to the point where it might have made the land unusable for a while - typically traitors or enemy leaders - and this would usually be followed by executions and the burning down of any structures and so forth... but these would be relatively small pieces of land, not entire fields, and certainly not entire kingdoms as some claims would have you believe...

Salt was a symbol of purity. When you "salted the land" of an enemy kingdom, or the land of a traitor, it usually consisted of plowing a small piece of land and ceremoniously scattering some salt. The message was that you were cleansing the land of whatever evil taint it held because of their having lived there.

Salting entire kingdoms, or even entire crop fields, would require an *enormous* amount of salt, and salt was way too valuable to be used that way. It would be like trying to ruin land today by plowing bundles of cash into the soil... not exactly a wise move.

When you see historical accounts of kingdoms being "salted" it generally refers to the symbolic version... or in some cases is just hyperbole used by rulers to tell their people how they just totally pwned some enemy.
 
whm1974
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Re: Salting the Earth, was this actually done?

Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:04 pm

cphite wrote:
It was, but not on the scale you're thinking...

There were some rare examples of land owned by specific people or families being salted to the point where it might have made the land unusable for a while - typically traitors or enemy leaders - and this would usually be followed by executions and the burning down of any structures and so forth... but these would be relatively small pieces of land, not entire fields, and certainly not entire kingdoms as some claims would have you believe...

Salt was a symbol of purity. When you "salted the land" of an enemy kingdom, or the land of a traitor, it usually consisted of plowing a small piece of land and ceremoniously scattering some salt. The message was that you were cleansing the land of whatever evil taint it held because of their having lived there.

Salting entire kingdoms, or even entire crop fields, would require an *enormous* amount of salt, and salt was way too valuable to be used that way. It would be like trying to ruin land today by plowing bundles of cash into the soil... not exactly a wise move.

When you see historical accounts of kingdoms being "salted" it generally refers to the symbolic version... or in some cases is just hyperbole used by rulers to tell their people how they just totally pwned some enemy.

Well besides the expense, doing this can also come back Bite you in the Rear, it turns out the destroyed Farmland is badly needed later on due widespread crop failure because of crop diseases and brutal droughts.
 
Captain Ned
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Re: Salting the Earth, was this actually done?

Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:13 pm

Couple years of rain leaches it all out.

The word "salary" has Latin roots. Roman soldiers were paid partially in salt. In Latin, salt is "sal". So, we're all still working for salt.
What we have today is way too much pluribus and not enough unum.
 
whm1974
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Re: Salting the Earth, was this actually done?

Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:47 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
Couple years of rain leaches it all out.

The word "salary" has Latin roots. Roman soldiers were paid partially in salt. In Latin, salt is "sal". So, we're all still working for salt.

Yes I am aware where "Salary" come from.
 
Aranarth
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Re: Salting the Earth, was this actually done?

Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:25 am

Also salt was used as a fertilizer in SMALL AMOUNTS.

If you use too much you kill the plants.

If the land was barren from over use but still in decent shape you could help the land.

(My mom studies the bible and ancient history a lot.)
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whm1974
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Re: Salting the Earth, was this actually done?

Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:17 am

Aranarth wrote:
Also salt was used as a fertilizer in SMALL AMOUNTS.

If you use too much you kill the plants.

If the land was barren from over use but still in decent shape you could help the land.

(My mom studies the bible and ancient history a lot.)

I did read something like that, but I have a hard time accepting this. However I am not a gardener or farmer. Well it does make sense if cropland is worn out from over-farming. BTW, how much Salt do you use per acre of overused land?
 
cphite
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Re: Salting the Earth, was this actually done?

Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:32 pm

whm1974 wrote:
Aranarth wrote:
Also salt was used as a fertilizer in SMALL AMOUNTS.

If you use too much you kill the plants.

If the land was barren from over use but still in decent shape you could help the land.

(My mom studies the bible and ancient history a lot.)

I did read something like that, but I have a hard time accepting this. However I am not a gardener or farmer. Well it does make sense if cropland is worn out from over-farming. BTW, how much Salt do you use per acre of overused land?


Strictly speaking, from a chemistry standpoint, almost all fertilizers contain salts. Salts are actually required chemically for plants to absorb nutrients - but different plants have different tolerance levels. If the salt level is too high, it will start to have negative effects and can eventually kill the plants. Pure salt (for example sodium chloride) is generally far too high for most plants.

Crop land being "worn out" is generally a combination of salt levels getting too high and nutrient levels getting too low. So what you will see very often is farmers will alternate different types of crops each year in the same field, and will often add in "green manure" crops like clover that get plowed into the soil. Different crops take away or leave behind different nutrients, and affect the salt levels in different ways.
 
BIF
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Re: Salting the Earth, was this actually done?

Sun Sep 27, 2020 1:15 pm

cphite wrote:
whm1974 wrote:
Aranarth wrote:
Also salt was used as a fertilizer in SMALL AMOUNTS.

If you use too much you kill the plants.

If the land was barren from over use but still in decent shape you could help the land.

(My mom studies the bible and ancient history a lot.)

I did read something like that, but I have a hard time accepting this. However I am not a gardener or farmer. Well it does make sense if cropland is worn out from over-farming. BTW, how much Salt do you use per acre of overused land?


Strictly speaking, from a chemistry standpoint, almost all fertilizers contain salts. Salts are actually required chemically for plants to absorb nutrients - but different plants have different tolerance levels. If the salt level is too high, it will start to have negative effects and can eventually kill the plants. Pure salt (for example sodium chloride) is generally far too high for most plants.

This is true of herbicides too. Even the much-maligned Roundup's active ingredient Glyphosate just leaves behind a salt after it loses its power in the soil.

Crop land being "worn out" is generally a combination of salt levels getting too high and nutrient levels getting too low. So what you will see very often is farmers will alternate different types of crops each year in the same field, and will often add in "green manure" crops like clover that get plowed into the soil. Different crops take away or leave behind different nutrients, and affect the salt levels in different ways.


I do this in my own backyard garden. I'll let some patches just grow weeds some summers, then till it all into the soil in the fall. I'll also add composted kitchen, landscape trimming, and other organic materials to it usually around planting time, then till that into the soil just before planting.

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