Halophytic forages on salt-affected land as an adjunct to Mediterranean agriculture in Australia

Malcolm, C.V.

International Conference on Land and Water Resources Management in the Mediterranean Region, Valenzano, Bari, Italy 4-8 September, 1994 2: 595-611


Accession: 002856827

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In areas of Australia experiencing a Mediterranean climate, sclerophyllous vegetation has been partially removed to permit the growth of annual crops (e.g. wheat, oats, barley, lupins) and annual pastures (clover and medic based). Sheep and cattle are grazed on the pasture and crop residues. There is commonly a shortage of feed for the animals in the autumn and they are fed hay and grain at that time. The change in vegetation has disturbed the hydrologic balance of the landscape. More rainfall now penetrates beyond the plant root zone and this has caused a rise in groundwater levels. Salt contained in the subsoil has been mobilized by the groundwater when the water table approached within 2-3 m of the soil surface. This has caused the topsoil to become salinized. The salinized areas have most often been in the valley floors. The paper discusses strategies to reverse the adverse effects of vegetation removal, such as use of crops that utilize more water and the planting of trees and perennial pastures in selected areas of a catchment.