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SOLUTION 1

Fence and exclude from grazing

 

1.5  Establishment & Management of fence and exclude from grazing

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Establishment

As discussed in Section 1.2, the different species of samphire differ significantly in their salinity and waterlogging tolerance. Some species are suited to highly inundated situations, while other species tend to colonise the slightly drier peripheries or well drained banks within a saline area.

Identification of the individual samphire species is not easy without botanical training as it relies on observations of the morphology of highly modified stems and flowers (see Figure 1.1). Therefore identifying and then selecting seed from particular species is not recommended.

For farmers wanting to assist the establishment of samphire on their suitable saline land, the recommended method is to fence off the area and let nature take its course.

An alternative is to identify local sites with similar levels of waterlogging and salinity and collect seed from there. This involves harvesting the shoots or whole plants by hand or with a forage harvester, and spreading the harvested material on the ground. Tickling the soil surface with a scarifier can also help create seed niches. On some SGSL Producer Network sites various mulches were used on scalds to help establish salt tolerant species.

As different species can tolerate different conditions, this seed should be sourced from local sites with similar salinity/waterlogging profiles for best results. For more information, see Samphire for waterlogged saltland.

Under controlled conditions, seed germination is affected by soil salinity, temperatures and seed scarification. In practical terms, samphires will germinate in spring after soils have been leached by rainfall and/or floodwaters. Therefore, the best time to collect and spread the appropriate samphire species across a site is in autumn after flowering and seed set.

Once some samphire has been established on a site, the stands may be thickened up by cultivating bare areas to encourage soil leaching and create niches in which seeds can lodge.

Weed and vermin control around the margins of sites suited to this saltland solution will require attention. However, with the levels of salinity and waterlogging that will be present, weeds have little chance of establishing.

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Management

Fencing off highly saline areas and excluding them from grazing is essentially a decision not to actively manage that part of the farm.

There are some management considerations associated with assisting the site to become colonised with samphire if it is not already present on the site, as outlined in Section 1.5 above.

Areas of the farm that have been converted to conservation rather than production still require some oversight to ensure they do not represent a fire risk, a haven for weeds and feral pests, or erosion sites. Many of these risks are negligible for the core area that will by highly saline and waterlogged, but areas are rarely uniform in shape and fencing them off will inevitably include some less saline, or even non-saline land that may create a haven for weeds or vertebrate pests.

Samphire-dominated sites are not recommended for grazing as it can affect plant survival and seed set, and the high salt concentrations in the forage will have adverse effects on the grazing animals.

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