Salinity in Australia By: Kali Fields and Dhanielle Tobias
Salinity: • Unsuitable soil and topography • Soil salinity is the build up of salts to such a point that it ruins the soil and vegetation. • Salinity is a natural process that results from: • high levels of salt in the soils • landscape features that allow the water table and salts in it to become movable • climatic trends that favor salt build up • Salt is a natural element of soil and water that is prevalent in Australia. D & K INC.
Soil Salinity • Replacing natural vegetation with shallow rooted crops – rising groundwater levels including dissolved salts • Salt transferred into crops root zones and wetlands, streams and rivers D & K INC.
Salinity from irrigation • It can occur over time wherever irrigation occurs. • Soil salinity makes it more difficult for plants to absorb soil moisture. • Harmful effects on plant growth and final yield. • Damage to infrastructure. • Reduction of water quality for users. • Soil erosion. • One of the best examples of salinity was observed in Egypt in 1970 when the Aswan High Dam was built. D & K INC.
Salinity in Australia • Soil salinity is a major environmental issue in Australia. • It is a problem in most states, but especially in the south-west of Western Australia. • Some of the salts originate from marine sediments, but most have been deposited in rainfall over thousands of years. D & K INC.
The Costs of Salinity in Australia • More than $130 million of agricultural production is lost annually from salinity • More than $6 million is spent every year on building maintenance related to salinity in South Australia • Salinity causes $9 million damage annually to roads and highways D & K INC.
More Effects… • The area of salt affected land in Australia is increasing at a rate of one football field/hr. • If salinity is not effectively managed within 20 yrs., the salt content in their drinking water may exceed World Health Organization standards for desirable drinking water in two of every five days • Increased salinity could cause the extinction of approximately 450 species of native flowers and 250 species of invertebrate water fauna in the Australian wheat belt D & K INC.
The area of salt-affected soils in 2002 was around 20,000 square kilometers. • For example, the National Land and Water Resources Audit estimates that 5.7 million hectares have a high potential for the development of dryland salinity, and predicts this to rise to 17 million hectares by 2050. D & K INC.
THE PLAN… • We need to focus on what solutions are available that are acceptable to farmers and the community • And how we can develop the new industries that will be required to change the landscape • Perennials will be the major solution to their problem D & K INC.
Farmer Participation We believe that farmer participation in planning, implementation and interpretation stages is vital. D & K INC.
Problems farmers have with perennials: • They think grain offers their best return in profits • They have difficulty managing major changes and are not equipped to take risks • They do not have the money or time to plant new perennials • They do not know much about planting perennials • These are factors that MUST be taken into account D & K INC.
EDUCATING FARMERS ON… • When and where to plant perennials • What specific plants should be planted • What benefits come from this • How much of their farm land can be effectively planted • The future of their farm D & K INC.
The Use of Perennial Species • Until 2010, during the next four years, we will take action on ¼ of their worst total salinity area each year • Perennial legumes for difficult soils and perennial grasses. • Continuously educating on improving farming systems: • Improved land-use preparation. Environmentally practical farming systems that are more beneficial than present methods. D & K INC.
The Benefits of Perennials: • Lower water tables • Often boost farm profits • Improve water management • Reduce the rate of spread of salinity • Good replacement of the natural vegetation that was removed, causing salinity D & K INC.
We will provide them with… • New perennials each year until 2010 • Mainly the salt tolerant species, such as saltbush • Knowledge on perennials to the agricultural branches of their extension In return… • They must sign a contract saying that they will continuously take care of the perennials and continue implementing our plan • Their extension must provide them with the knowledge they have gained from us D & K INC.
Saltbusha.k.a. Atriplex amnicola • A species of shrub native to the floodplains of the Murchison and Gascoyne Rivers • Multi-branched • Can get up to 12 feet wide, spreading across the ground • Leaves • bluish-green • great variation in size and shape, often spear-shaped • Very highly salt tolerant • Great long-term survival • Fairly drought tolerant • Tolerates water logging once mature • Highly favored by sheep • Recovers well from grazing D & K INC.
In Conclusion… • We will provide them with however many perennials are needed to make a change and the knowledge needed annually, until 2010 • In return, they will learn, use, and promote the knowledge to help stop salinity • If we are to manage dryland salinity we must explore all the available options. • Continue to listen to the farmers and let them have a say in the plan D & K INC.
SOURCES • “Australia’s Salinity Problem.” Australian Government. (2001): • 1-4. http://www.napswq.gov.au/publications/salinity.html • Gale, Thomas. 2006. Australia: Agriculture. Thomson Corporation. http://www.nationsencylopedia.com/Asia- and-Oceania/Australia-AGRICULTURE.html • Kingwell, Dr. Ross. “Know How to Tackle Salinity.” The National Dryland Salinity Program. (6 May 2003): 1-3. http://www.lwrrde.gov.au/ndsp/news.asp • “Monitoring The White Death – Soil Salinity.” Australian Academy of Science. (January 2004): 1-6. http://www.science.org.au/nova/075/075sit.htm D & K INC.