THE NATIONAL DRYLAND SALINITY PROGRAM: Now into Phase II

The National Dryland Salinity Program (NDSP) was established in 1993 as a joint effort among the Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, the National Landcare Program, CSIRO and state governments.

The program is integrating management approaches to dryland salinity in Australia. According to a 1997 program review, major steps have been made in this direction through improved coordination among researchers in a range of disciplines, and stronger links between scientists, landholders and community groups.

The limitations of the program to date were also noted. Chief among these has been a lack of data and cost-effective solutions to remedy the imbalances between water flowing into and being taken out of soils and groundwater. Another major obstacle is the regional nature of salinity problems—where the water enters groundwater systems and where water and dissolved salts discharge can be many kilometres apart.

Phase II: making it happen

Graingrowers through the GRDC have joined forces with the National Dryland Salinity Program in its second phase which began last July and will continue to June 2003.

The GRDC and the Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation have committed $5 million each over the next five years, and many activities of other research and development corporations and state governments will fall under the auspices of the program.

A key challenge is to improve the operating environment under which farmers, catchment groups and others make decisions. Emphasis will be on developing government policies and industry initiatives to make salinity management a reality.

The program will have a budget at least twice that of the first phase.