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Beyond the Bale : Jun 07 - Jul 07 Supplement
More than 8000 woolgrowers who report salinity on their properties now have a range of grazing options to deal with the problem, from planting saltland pastures, which can lift profits by at least 10 per cent, to the low-cost option of fencing-off and rotationally grazing volunteer pasture. Dryland salinity affects 2.5 million hectares of Australia and continues to grow. About 1.2 million hectares of woolgrowing land is affected by salt, of which about a fifth has been sown to saltland pasture. Sustainable Grazing on Saline Lands (SGSL)*, a sub-program of Land, Water & Wool, has found that 'mid-range' salinity sites are the best place for farmers to make a start on saltland management (EC [electrical conductivity] 10--30dS/m [decisiemens per metre]). Sites with moderate salt levels offer greater prospects for better and more reliable returns than badly affected areas (which might fail) and also mildly affected areas (which can still potentially be cropped). On this basis, SGSL has determined that about half of the saline land in Western Australia is suitable for long-term and profitable saltland pastures. Careful site preparation, species selection and sowing with viable seed are essential. In NSW, even during the severe drought, more than half the trial sites succeeded in establishing pastures on salt-affected land at the first attempt, which was impressive considering the relatively hostile environment being established to pasture. Weed control becomes a critical component of saline land management once work begins. In South Australia, saltland pastures lowered the water table sufficiently to allow lucerne to be established -- an important part of the perennial pasture mix. This approach turned a 725ha property from unviable (losses of $62/ha per year under its existing system) to highly profitable (profit of $77/ha/year). Another farm increased profit from $8 to $147/ha/year, mainly from cropping the rest of the property when the sheep were grazing the saltland. Researchers are continuing to test native and introduced species for their usefulness as saltland pastures through the Cooperative Research Centre SUSTAINABLE GRAZING ON SALINE LANDS 6 BEYOND THE BALE LAND,WATER & WOOL SUPPLEMENT Pastures a key to solving salinity SALTDeck aims to take the guesswork out of identification and selection of saltland plant species. It provides a fast and convenient way of identifying the 50 most common plant species growing on salt-affected land. Land, Water & Wool has found that moderately saline land is the best place for woolgrowers to make a star t on saltland management
Aug 07 - Sep 07
Jun 07 - Jul 07