An owner or occupier of land must give at least 90 days notice to the Commissioner of Soil and Land Conservation of an intent to drain subsurface water to control salinity and discharge that water onto other land, into other water or into a watercourse, even if on the same property. The notice must use the notice of intent to drain or pump (NOID) form. Principles and guidelines for inland drainage are covered in the Policy framework for inland drainage.
Benefits from managing saline land
Benefits can include one or more of the following:
- it's your land already, so use what you have
- reduced losses by not cropping saline land
- increased profit by producing a commercial saltland product
- reduced seasonal risk by providing off-season grazing
- decreased salt export off-farm
- decreased wind and water erosion
- demonstrated good farm management.
Some guiding principles for saltland management
- Have a long-term goal for saltland management: this is going to take some years, so be committed.
- Assess the site: the most important part of this assessment is knowing what is causing the buildup of salt. More information is on the assessing dryland salinity page.
- Produce a whole-farm plan for water management and land use. Management options in the next step will depend on whether the farm is all cropping or mixed farming.
- Choose management options that suit the environment, farm plan and long-term land use.
- Design and implement the option to suit the site conditions.
- Monitor changes and adapt management to the changing conditions.
In most areas of Western Australia, the benefits from management on-farm will also be on that farm. However, surface water management at a catchment level is often needed to avoid transferring unwanted water and salt to downstream landowners.
Manage salinity as part of whole-farm water management. Recovery is usually the most expensive option.
Reviews and case studies
- Managing dryland salinity – case studies
- Catchment Demonstration Initiative - URS report to DAFWA - 2010
- Review of inland drainage research (2003–2015) - Department of Water, Western Australia (PDF)
- Benefits and costs of saltland pastures on moderately salt-affected land. RMTR 374, 2013
- A history of salinity in Western Australia – A salty bunch of dates
- Natural revegetation and no grazing (very saline and waterlogged land)
- Fence and volunteer pasture
- Samphires (Tecticornia species)
- Saltbushes for dryland salinity management
- Dense saltbush pastures
- Saltbush plus understorey pastures
- Establishing saltbush and understorey
- Saltbush establishment – Saltbush seedling system (YouTube video)
- Saltbush establishment – A niche seeding saltbush system (YouTube video)
- Saltbush establishment – Bracts ain't seed (YouTube video about identifying the actual seed in your saltbush 'seed').
- pasture legumes and grasses for saline land (listing tolerances of many legume and grass species)
- Neptune messina – a pasture legume for saline soils prone to waterlogging
- Balansa clover
- Puccinellia (Puccinellia ciliata)
- Tall wheatgrass (Thinopyrum ponticum)
- Marine couch, saltwater couch and Distichlis (vegetatively established grasses)
- Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana)
- Kikuyu (Cenchrus clandestinum).
- Saltland pasture grazing management (YouTube video)
Revegetation, agroforestry and farm forestry options
- Tables of salinity tolerance of plants for agriculture and revegetation
- Oil mallees: Hydrological Impacts and Productivity Interactions of Integrated Oil Mallee Farming Systems (RIRDC Publication No. 11/161)
- Hydrological impacts of integrated oil mallee farming systems (DAFWA Resource Management Technical Report 377)
- Saline aquaculture
- Harvesting salt and minerals
- Desalination to produce fresh water
- Energy production (solar ponds)
Some links to general salinity information
Not usually recommended. Allow natural revegetation to protect the ground from wind and water erosion. At some stage, the saline site will reach a steady state – varying a bit due to climatic and weather conditions. This option is only acceptable for small areas not affecting other land use.
Benefits: little or no cost; changes in salinisation can be monitored before deciding on any treatment.
Problems: erosion risk is high; salt build-up on the surface and movement off-site is likely; may expand.
Benefits: are dependent on the option and site; once established, continues to work for many years; do not require a specific production system; can capture water resources.
Problems: requires extensive site assessment and detailed technical planning before construction; expensive to establish; usually restricts trafficability to some extent; can be expensive to remove or change; usually has a discharge that can cause problems on- and off-farm.
Surface water management to reduce recharge
- Subsurface water management to increase discharge
Benefits: does not have effluent discharge; can have direct commercial products; can change land use quite easily.
Problems: requires good livestock and/or plant management; changing salinity or waterlogging may affect plant survival.
- saltland pastures (adaptation): to increase livestock feed, which is highly valuable at the break of season or in dry seasons.
- deep-rooted nonsaline perennial pastures (prevention or containment): can be used in long-term pastures or as a phase cropping option.
- salt-tolerant shrubs and trees (adaptation, prevention, containment): for carbon sequestration, habitat, and possible wood products. This link is to tables of different salt tolerance.
- Inland saline aquaculture (beta carotene production, algae seaweed, brine shrimp, fin fish)
- Harvesting salt and minerals
- Energy production (solar gradient ponds)
- Desalination to produce fresh water supplies
Except for desalination, most of the innovative options listed have been researched and trialled and failed to reach commercial levels. Some of the options have high value niche markets (e.g. beta carotene, algae for pharmaceuticals). We recommend extensive and intensive investigations before adopting any of these innovative options.
For more information videos
See DPIRD's YouTube channel on Marginal soils and saltland management.