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Unit 1 - What's in it for me?
Unit 2 - Saltland Basics
Unit 3 - Can I trust the technology?
Unit 4 - Plant and animal performance
Unit 5 - Sheep, cattle and conservation
Unit 6 - Do the $$$'s stack up?
Unit 7 - The saltland toolbox
Site Assessment
Solution 1: Exclude grazing
Solution 2: Volunteer pasture
Solution 3: Saltbush
Solution 4: Saltbush & Understorey
Solution 5: Tall Wheatgrass
Solution 6: Puccinellia
Solution 7: Vegetative grasses
Solution 8: Temperate perennials
Solution 9: Sub-tropicals
Solution 10: Legumes
Solution 11: Revegetation
Solution 12: Messina
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SOLUTION 1

Fence and exclude from grazing

 

1.2  Most likely situations for fence and exclude from grazing

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Landscape niche

All plants have landscape niches or zones (combinations of climatic and soil conditions and management) where they are most competitive or perform best. Saltland plants are the same, each tending to have a particular set of climatic (rainfall, temperature etc) and soil (salinity, waterlogging) factors which determine where they will be able to survive, and are likely to thrive. For samphire (the predominant species associated with this Saltland Solution), these factors are summarised in Figure 1.2. 

Figure 1.2 Most likely situations for samphire.

Subsoil salinity/ depth to watertable matrix

Winter

Summer

 

 

Drivers of plant zonation

  • Shallow rooted halophyte
  • Tolerates high waterlogging, even inundation in winter
  • Growth depends on groundwater accessible to roots
  • Germinates after flooding
  • Rainfall variable

Key to symbols

red dot

This is the zone most preferred by samphire and where this Saltland Solution is highly recommended.

red ring

Samphire will most likely survive in this zone, but its growth will be poor and uncompetitive with other plant options.

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Common indicator species

Samphire is the ultimate indicator plant – identifying sites where not to plant other saltland pastures.

The sites that are most suited to fencing and exclusion from grazing will either be bare, or will already be supporting some samphire plants (see Figure 1.1). There may also be curly ryegrass, cotula and/or glasswort (see Figure 1.3, 1.4 and 1.5), but these are not as strongly indicative as samphire itself and the value of cotula as an indicator has been questioned.

Figure 1.3 - SALTdeck identification card for cotula

Figure 1.4 - SALTdeck identification card for curly ryegrass 

 

Figure 1.5 - SALTdeck identification card for glasswort

SALTdeck was produced to assist with the identification of the 50 most common saltland species. These can be viewed on this website.

 

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Soil & climatic requirements

Samphires around the world live in environments generally considered to be hostile. Their growing conditions can vary from extreme heat and salinity, to frost, waterlogged soils, hard-baked clays, or flash floods. In Australia, samphires are most commonly associated with saline environments. Samphire habitats traditionally included salt lakes and pans, salt marshes and coastal flats, but have now expanded into areas of secondary salinisation, when salinity and waterlogging associated with high water tables becomes an issue.

Waterlogging/inundation. Samphires can grow in soils that are more or less permanently waterlogged, and some species can withstand up to 6 months partial inundation.

Salinity. Samphires are highly salt-tolerant once established. Specimens growing on salt flats near Kalgoorlie in WA have been able to withstand extreme salinity, with measured ECe values of 70-100 dS/m at depths of 10-20cm over summer. At Wubin in WA, samphire growing in the SGSL (Sustainable Grazing on Saline Land) experiments had ECe values of ~40dS/m at 0-25cm depth in spring.

Samphire is a typical halophyte. In solution cultures its pattern of growth is lower when salinity is low, increasing to an optimum with an EC in the solution of ~20dS/m, and then growth gradually declines as concentrations reach 80dS/m.

Like many halophytes samphire has highest germination rates at low salinities. An experiment with H. pergranulata showed high rates of germination at 14dS/m (25% of salinity of seawater), a 40% decrease in germination at 27dS/m (50% of salinity of seawater), and no germination at 41dS/m (75% of salinity of seawater) – despite adult plants easily persisting at those (and higher) salinity levels.

Climate. Samphires are endemic across southern Australia and therefore are well adapted to the temperature and rainfall conditions in almost all areas where dryland salinity occurs in the southern States. Germination appears to be temperature responsive: of a range of temperatures tested, optimal germination occurred with a day/night temp regime of 5–35oC.

Matching plants to a saline site. The degree of salinity and waterlogging tolerance in samphire differs between the various species. The species commonly found on salt flats in WA (H. pergranulata pergranulata) will withstand months of waterlogging and weeks of inundation and total submergence. However, there are samphire species that grow on well drained banks around saltland (eg. H. indica) and these plants are almost certainly likely to be more sensitive to inundation. A study of samphire zonation in WA found that the different species selected positions in the landscape primarily in response to soil moisture and salt load. Soil pH also played a small role.

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