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Unit 7 - The saltland toolbox
Site Assessment
Solution 1: Exclude grazing
Solution 2: Volunteer pasture
Solution 3: Saltbush
Solution 4: Saltbush & Understorey
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SOLUTION 2

Fence and volunteer pasture

 

2.5  Establishment & management of volunteer pastures

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Establishment

Establishment is not an issue, as by definition, volunteer pastures establish themselves. However, the composition of a volunteer pasture depends on the species available in the vicinity of the fenced area. The composition of the volunteer species may determine whether a sown pasture might need to be established.

 Some assistance might be beneficial in ensuring that the most desirable of the volunteer species establish. In the early days of saltland pasture science, Clive Malcolm outlined a “low cost revegetation strategy” based on the ability of bluebush and samphire to colonise saltland easily. The WA Department of Agriculture produced a farmnote on seeding shrub pastures on saltland (no longer available) that encouraged the introduction of bluebush by collecting its seeds in autumn and spreading them on the surface of cultivated ground.

This early work often talked about the benefits of ‘tickling’ up the surface of bare areas of soil with a scarifier or heavy harrows to break the surface crust on bare soil areas and provide niches for shed seed to lodge and germinate. The time to do this in Western Australia would be in March-April when the small leaf bluebush is shedding its mature seed.

Any such efforts or costs associated with encouraging the volunteering species increase the cost and take the option into the intermediate space between volunteer pasture and sown saltland pasture.

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Management

Set stocking is never best practice on saltland because of the likelihood of overgrazing of the most salty areas and turning them into bare saline scalds. Rotational grazing is required, but because the saline sites are often susceptible to pugging damage and erosion, it is recommended that stock be removed from the saline area when there is still significant groundcover.

In most cases, rotational grazing will give an advantage to perennial species over annuals and that is a good outcome for saltland – though there are significant perennial weeds that may invade some saline land, such as spiny rush.

Because different species will volunteer at different sites, apart from recommending conservative, rotational grazing, it is not possible to be more specific than to say grazing should be timed to avoid the seed setting time for any plants that you wish to encourage.

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