During a recent two-day, fact-finding tour of WA's Great Southern, jointly initiated by GRDC Chairman, Grant Latta, and Federal Minister for Agriculture, Warren Truss, farmers, researchers and other stakeholders put their views on how the salinity challenge can best be managed.
Joining them on the tour were GRDC Board Deputy Chairman Terry Enright; Western Regional Panel Chairman Dale Baker and Program Manager John Harvey; AFFA Secretary Michael Taylor; State Salinity Council Chairman Alex Campbell and CEO Don Crawford; GCA President John Lush; AGWEST CEO Graeme Robertson, Executive Director David Hartley and Project Manager Bill Porter; and LWRRDC CEO Andrew Campbell and Program Manager Richard Price.
Mr Latta described the tour as a revelation that highlighted the sheer magnitude of the salinity problem, its complexity and the array of solutions.
"I was very impressed with the innovative farmers and landcare groups we met, all of whom were dedicated to the cause of ensuring past mistakes weren't repeated. They all offered solutions which, when packaged together with other ideas, could bring a systems approach to tackling salinity on a big scale," he said.
A Million Hectares for the Future
Mr Latta said the GRDC is committed to developing salinity solutions and this is underscored in the new program A Million Hectares for the Future', which will work with hundreds of growers in WA and SA to help them retard salinity.
"It focuses on the systematic development of environmental buffers and management systems needed to stop salinity across 1 million hectares of grainbelt.
"To successfully go down this path, the wider community will need to share ownership of the salinity problem and, in turn, generate an environment of mutual understanding.
"If there is a positive to the salinity debate, it is that it might bring city and country together, like never before, with all parties rising to the challenge of creating a better future for all Australians," Mr Latta said.
The GRDC invests almost $4 million a year in R&D to develop productive solutions to salinity and is a core partner in the National Dryland Salinity Program (NDSP). Overall the GRDC invests about $23 million annually towards achieving its investment objective 3 -Protecting and Enhancing the Environment.