Reduced salinity key to future of agriculture

The Western Australian Farmers Federation (Inc.) (WAFarmers), as part of its long term plan for farming, is seeking the development of a State Salinity Strategy.

The strategy must prioritise National Resource Management (NRM) planning and funding processes to address the impact of salinity.

The most recent analysis on the impact of salinity in Western Australia was the State of the Environment Report (2007), which identified the key land salinisation impacts as:

  • It is estimated that 75 per cent of Australia’s dryland salinity problem is in Western Australia;
  • About 1.1 million hectares of South West land is currently salt-affected; and
  • More than 14,000 hectares of land is lost to land salinisation each year.

WAFarmers President, Dale Park, said the State Government’s recent announcement regarding a framework for inland drainage was a step in the right direction; however a long term solution for salinity is required.

“Whilst significant levels of funding existed through previous programs to tackle salinity, these have decreased in recent years,” Mr Park said.

“The Federal Government has commented that “salinity management is primarily a state issue” and is therefore not a high priority in its flagship Caring for our Country program.

“There are 5.4 million hectares of land in the South West of Western Australia which are at risk of salinisation, about 80 per cent of this is agricultural land, but it also includes important areas of native vegetation, wetlands and infrastructure.”

The State NRM Program’s Investment Priorities (2010/11–2013/14) lists one of its priorities as “Improved management of agricultural land” this principally refers to the “integration of carbon farming practices and mitigating salinity on high priority agricultural land.”

“Western Australia needs to do more and this requires both an agreed strategy and investment on the required scale to respond to the known and expected impacts of salinity,” Mr Park concluded.

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