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Dryland Salinity: Spatial Impacts And Farmers' Options

The salinisation of farmland in Australia is a major natural resource management problem. Over the next 20 years a further 1.1 million hectares of broadacre farmland is predicted to become salt-affected. This paper firstly explores the spatial ramifications of the spread of salinity in Australia's agricultural regions. Some of the nation's most profitable grain growing regions will become seriously affected by salinity over the next 20 years. Secondly this paper outlines the nature, uptake and profitability of various salinity management options available to Australian farmers. These options include preventative and containment measures, such as engineering solutions and adoption of deep-rooted perennials, and other options involving adaptation to more saline environments such as commercial use of saline water and salt tolerant fodder plants. Deep-rooted perennial fodder species appear to offer the best short to medium term prospect for managing salinity in most agricultural zones. However, in many situations perennials may not be profitable at the scale required to have a significant impact on the rate of spread of salinity on farmland, or the rate of increase of saltload in rivers and streams.

Author(s): Kingwell Dr Ross (1)

Organization(s): WA Department of Agriculture & The University of WA (1)

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