Help for dryland salinity

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Dryland salinity, one of the big threats to WA agriculture in the next 50 years, will be under the spotlight at a forum later this month.

The Gillamii Centre in Cranbrook will host the free two-day forum funded by FarmReady, Caring for Our Country, Saltland Pastures Association and Future Farms Industries CRC.

Gillamii Centre chairman Ian Walsh said the forum, on July 28 and 29, followed in the footsteps of successful events in Woodanilling and Cranbrook last year.

It includes information from Saltland Pastures Association, the Department of Agriculture and Food WA and the Future Farms Industries CRC.

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“It’s really for everyone — not just for people with salt problems, ” Mr Walsh said.

“It’s for farmers, project officers, students learning about salinity, NRM personnel and people thinking about using perennials in non-saline areas as well as farm advisers.

“When you register, participants get an online log-in to access information that gives a basic understanding of dryland salinity — the cause, about hydrology and plants that can be used.

“It’s not compulsory, but it helps bring everyone on the course up to the same level of knowledge.”

At the forum, participants will hear from experts, including CSIRO livestock research scientist Hayley Norman, DAFWA dryland guru Ed Barrett-Lennard and specialist hydrologist Ruhi Ferdownsian who was previously based with DAFWA.

Theory sessions will be followed by field visits to see how dryland salinity has been addressed.

“It gives good continuity and participants go straight from listening to the experts out into the field to see what is happening, ” Mr Walsh said.

“They get taught how to use tools such as a salinity metre and will receive a salt kit pack worth $300 to help assess sites on their own farms.”

The next day, participants will form groups, assess a problem site and come up with a solution, using the knowledge they have learnt, which will be assessed by the experts.

Gillamii Centre project officer Genevieve Harvey said they were hoping to run more forums in the future.

“This year we have participants signed up from as far away as Manjimup and Perth, so if you want to come, register as a soon as possible, ” she said.

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