A collaboration between the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Gillamii Grower Group and farmers has resulted in a series of case study videos to help farmers regenerate their salt lands into productive pastures.
The case studies are part of a broader three-year project to share the latest salinity management research, tools and resources with grainbelt farmers.
Miling farmers Tony and Peta White have transformed large areas of bare, saline land on their property into a ‘green living haystack’ for their sheep.
“Twenty years ago there was nothing, it was bare salt scald with no vegetation on it,” Mr White said.
At a local field day, he was given some saltbush seedlings which he took home and planted on a saline area near the house.
“They just took off and I thought wow, we can do more with this,” he said.
In 2001, Mr White began developing a saltland pasture system based on targeting four zones of salinity severity using different pastures, shrubs and trees, to tap into the invaluable underground water resource.
This included a saltbush zone and, in the valley floor, using the native salt-tolerant succulent, samphire.
“The whole system is working really well,” Mr White said. “We’ve turned it around, we’ve stopped the salt scald and now we’ve got this green living haystack. We make good use of it and are running sheep through it at certain times of the year.”
The case studies feature farmers across varying rainfall zones and landscapes in the State’s agricultural region.
Department senior development officer Justin Hardy said the case studies confirmed what many farmers had said for a long time, that salt-affected land once of no productive value could be set up as an asset to the whole farm system.
“Salinity is a continued challenge on WA farms, however there is now a suite of proven and improved salt tolerant fodder shrubs, grasses and legumes available to incorporate into the farm management system,” Mr Hardy said.
“For many farmers these once bare, unproductive salt-affected areas on their farms have now become a core resource to the overall farm business.”
Cranbrook farmer and Gillamii Group chair Sam Lehmann said the group was pleased to be associated with these video testimonials that demonstrated successful grazing production from non-croppable areas on farms across the regions while preventing further loss of land to the spread of salinity.
“Having perennial pastures in the system means you welcome the out of season rain, and when it comes you only wish you had more in the ground,” Mr Lehmann said.
“Saltbush and perennial pastures also provide an invaluable food source in autumn when pastures and stubbles are exhausted.”
The eight farmer case studies are available on YouTube, with another two planned for release by the end of the year.
The project has had funding support through the WA Government’s State Natural Resource Management Program.
Jodie Thomson, media liaison (08) 9368 3937