Participants at a recent salinity workshop hosted by the GRDC wanted graingrowers and the broader community to remember that:
- at least 70 per cent of the grainbelt is not at risk to salinity and, of the 30 per cent that is, there is uncertainty about the degree to which salinity will affect production — the latter depending on whether the groundwater system is local, regional or both
- saline water coming from farmland is affecting some river systems
- farmers are encouraged to monitor subsoil moisture levels to know whether watertables are rising and also to create the opportunity to use subsoil moisture better for productive purposes. Summer cropping is a growing option
- tree planting is likely to have minimal impact on groundwater levels. The strategic use of perennial plants, such as lucerne, is a preferred option
- government assistance is needed in developing new industries to make use of saline land and to prevent more land from becoming salinised
- some radical solutions are needed and generally the timescale to try to fix the problem is long. Economic solutions can be developed but people have to realise that some salinisation of the landscape is ‘unpreventable’.