Some findings from a whole-farm approach

Dr Neil Turner, CSIRO: in the right places, trees work well in tandem with lucerne to control salinity.

A recent scientific workshop focused on the measurable outcomes from salinity abatement work over the past decade at 'Ucarro', a family property at Katanning in WA's Great Southern, which adopted a whole-farm approach to salinity control.

Key elements of the 'Ucarro' work include cross-slope drains, tree belts along the drainage lines, minimum tillage, crop diversification and pasture breaks, some of which included lucerne.

Organised by CSIRO Plant Industry Chief Research Scientist Neil Turner, the workshop was held in Albany and attended by 100 people, including various government agency scientists and researchers, landcare officers and farmers.

Data from a GRDC-supported CSIRO trial site at 'Ucarro' showed:

  • lucerne was taking up about 70 mm more water than annual pastures over three years
  • trees high in the landscape, where the watertable was quite fresh, took up 150 mm more water than the average annual rainfall
  • trees were definitely beneficial, but to maximise grain crop production, lucerne was needed in a phase farming system
  • lucerne/tree combinations were not a solution near saltpans.

Dr Turner said that 'Ucarro' had provided some valuable lessons in how trees and lucerne could work in tandem to help keep the lid on salinity.

Program 3.4.3

Contact: Dr Neil Turner 08 9333 6612