Sadly, this is a problem that many people reading this are all too familiar with ? the movement of salt deposits to the upper part of the soil in concentrations that make it impossible to grow the vast majority of crops currently farmed in Australia. The costs to the Australian economy of this can now be counted in hundreds of millions of dollars per annum ? a figure which stands to rise significantly within the next few years unless something is done.
Dryland salinity is often a direct consequence of the loss of deep rooted native perennial pastures, with the consequent rise of the watertable leading to increased salt concentrations in the topsoil. In many cases, this is directly due to the import of European crops ? and cropping practices with annual plants - into areas completely unsuited to them. The disastrous results may take many years to become apparent, but when they do, the damage is both severe and ? unless a very dramatic way of thinking is adopted ? most difficult to solve.
But not impossible.
How can our system help?
Oldman saltbush is named as such because it tolerates saline conditions. In fact, it can survive on water that contains over 50,000 ppm salt crystals ? a concentration which is significantly higher than that of seawater ? or the equivalent levels in soil matter. However, optimum plant growth occurs from about 10,000 ppm to 15,000 ppm.
The key way Oldman saltbush reduces salt in the soil is through lowering the watertable and permitting the surface salts to be leached by rain to the lower layers of the soil. Once the salts are at lower, then other less tolerant salt species with shallower root structures may grow amongst the shelter of the Oldman saltbush.
As a native, deep rooted perennial, its root structure ? which extends up to 4 metres down and almost 10 metres in diameter with a high density ? is able to affect large volumes of soil. It absorbs the salt away from the soil and into the plant system itself. And when the right quantities and types of salt are in the plant, your sheep and cattle can quickly move into a new league of profitability, as you can see here. Furthermore, the need to use salt blocks for your stock will be eliminated.
There is no other fodder crop that can even begin to approach this level of salt tolerance, ability to remove salt from the soil or capacity to sustain the growth of less salt tolerant plants around it.
When it comes to salinity, Grazing Management Systems does more than just solve the problem: we help you take advantage of the opportunity that salt can represent.