Saltbush shrubs combat salinity
The York family, of Tammin, are among many farmers in the heart of WA’s Wheatbelt who have long-enjoyed the dominant grain-growing region’s favourable conditions.
However, the York’s Anameka Farm is not immune to salt-affected land, which has riddled multiple mixed cropping and sheep operations throughout the area.
Brothers Simon and Tony York, in co-operation with Tony’s son Oscar, are making headway in their bid to overcome severe soil salinity across 4000ha of their 17,000ha property.
CSIRO scientists have been spearheading a study at Anameka Farm to use saltbush shrubs, which grow well in saline areas, to transform salt-affected land into livestock pasture paradises.
The Anameka saltbush — aptly named after the York’s property — is emerging as a high-energy, protein and sulphur supplement source for sheep, particularly during autumn.
CSIRO principal research scientist Hayley Norman developed the Anameka genotype after years of research and trials at the York’s Tammin-based landholding.
While at the York’s farm during WAFarmers’ livestock field day last Thursday, Dr Norman said the salt-tolerant plant increased wool production by up to 24 per cent compared to typical grazing.
Dr Norman said Anameka provided improved nutritional value for flocks to benefit sheep flocks.
“The autumn feed gap in the Wheatbelt is the biggest limitation for farmers running livestock — it is expensive and inconvenient to feed sheep at this time of year,” she said.
“It is clear that if we can find something that fills this feed gap, then it is worth a lot to farmers and will help to lift the stocking rates.
“Anameka is not a diet in its own right, it is something that complements all of the dead and dying materials out there at the moment.”
Meat and Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation have agreed to conduct Anameka research over the next three years.
Dr Norman said studies were focused on developing a seed-line for saltbush, which is difficult to breed, in an effort to promote plant production.
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