Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are all the elements - the good and bad in your water. These can be organic and inorganic substances such as minerals, salts, metals, cations or anions dissolved in water and can include things like sodium, chloride, and boron among many others.
When discussing the TDS levels found we can classify our water into the following categories:
- Fresh water: TDS = 500 ppm
- Brackish water: TDS = 500 - 30,000 ppm
- Saline water: TDS = 30,000 - 40,000 ppm
- Hypersaline: TDS greater than 40,000 ppm
An elevated total dissolved solids concentration does not always mean that the water is hazardous to your plants, but it's important to take a closer look at which elements are contributing to elevated levels.
Farmers located in California's central valley have to contend with TDS conditions that consist of high levels of sodium, chloride, and boron which not only reduce yield for many crops, but in some cases makes well water an unusable irrigation source.
When elements like sodium, chloride or boron are present in the soil-water the begin to accumulate in the leaves. As these toxic ions accumulate the reach excessive concentrations, causing chlorosis, bronzing and leaf burn.
Leaf necrosis caused by boron can sometimes be severe enough to reduce markedly the total leaf surface available for photosynthesis. What this means for you, the farmer, is lower yields.
Not sure if you need to treat?
Check out our article on all the things you need to know when deciding how to treat your water.