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Beyond the Bale : Dec 08 - Jan 09
12 Land management Beyond the Bale Genie out of the bottle and into the paddocks It might not grant you three wishes, but the new Saltland Genie website is set to take much of the guesswork out of salinity and managing salt-affected farmland By Fiona Conroy S altland Genie is designed to be the one-stop shop for farmers, agronomists and people managing environmental issues who have a query about any aspect of salt-affected land. Identifying salinity, indicator plants, animal and plant performance, and management options, and viewing research results, farmer case studies and even short film clips are just some of the information options available by clicking through the website. There is even the option to ask questions on saltland management and receive a personal reply from an expert in the appropriate field. South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) senior scientist Dr Nick Edwards says the extensive information on the Saltland Genie website is the culmination of years of research, trials and farmer involvement through the Sustainable Grazing of Saline Land (SGSL), a Land, Water and Wool sub-program, which finished in 2007. Dr Edwards currently leads the Saltland Knowledge Exchange Project at the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FFI CRC), and was previously the national coordinator of the SGSL research sites. “A lot of really useful and practical information on managing saltland came out of the SGSL program, and we want to make sure people who need this information can get hold of it easily and use it by having a single, credible source of information,” Dr Edwards says. “The website (www.saltlandgenie.org.au) pulls that information together in one place and makes sure it’s easily available to farmers and agronomists in one interactive site. “The site covers everything from identifying if you have a problem, through to weighing up your management options, which can be customised to suit your situation and environment.” The website is set out in a number of clearly marked sections. The ‘Saltland Uni’ section covers seven units outlining the basics of salinity, its history in Australia, its effect on livestock and the environment, the economics of rehabilitating saltland, and a glossary of terms. ‘Solution Explorer’ sets out the 11 main management options, from excluding grazing through to establishing saltbush, salt-tolerant grasses and legumes, and their grazing requirements. Each section can be expanded to get detailed information on how to implement each of the options, and also contains links to other relevant websites. “To help make choosing the most appropriate management option easier, the ‘Genie’s Advice’ section takes you through four simple questions asking about rainfall, your region, the severity of the salinity and waterlogging, and your motivation for dealing with the problem,” Dr Edwards says. “The Genie then provides recommendations about the usefulness of each of the 11 possible productive solutions for your saltland. “You can also click on whichever state you are in and you will be shown a map outlining all the research, farmer trials and case studies relevant to your district, and you can click to download useful fact sheets, stories, reports and even short films.” The ‘Resources’ section of the website also includes these reports for the whole of Australia, along with other material such as electronic versions of the ‘SALTdeck’ plant species identification cards produced for the SGSL program. The 50 individual cards in SALTdeck cover common grasses, legumes, herbs, shrubs, rushes and trees associated with saltland or used in its rehabilitation. Each card has photos of the plant to help in its identification, along with a description, information on its value, growing conditions and salt tolerance. The Saltland Genie website will be continually updated with the latest results from the ongoing saltland research and development by the FFI CRC and its partners. Saltland Genie is an initiative of Land, Water and Wool and the FFI CRC, both of which receive funding from AWI. ú More information: Saltland Genie, saltlandgenie.org.au
February March 2009
Oct - Nov 08