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Farm tour fights salinity

Daryna ZadvirnaGreat Southern Herald
Raymond Matthew, left, and Old Salt Tour participants standing in a patch of distichlis grass.
Camera IconRaymond Matthew, left, and Old Salt Tour participants standing in a patch of distichlis grass.

Katanning farmers are on a roaming mission to learn more about the salinity management issues challenging the region.

For the past 18 months, five farms in the Daping Creek catchment, about 15km north of Katanning, have been working on a salinity project through the National Landcare Program.

The $87,100 Smart Farms Small Grants funding helped the farmers plant more than 49,000 seedlings, erect 7.1km of fencing and establish water-management infrastructure across their properties.

Project manager and Katanning Landcare officer Ella Maesepp said the group also hit the road on the “Old Salt Bus Tour”, which concluded in February, visiting nearby agricultural salinity sites.

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“We were convinced that there were things to learn from farmers who had been working with these various solutions for years,” she said. “It was a chance to harvest the host farmer’s experience and use it to make better decisions for managing salt land here in Katanning.”

The group visited five sites with different approaches to salinity — a deep drain site in Dumbleyung, distichlis grass plots in Wickepin, a Narrogin oil mallee alley farm set-up, an oat-husk spreading site in Wagin, and 120ha of saltland pastures in Woodanilling.

“With the sites ranging in age from 15 to 27 years, there was a lot of collective knowledge gained by the farmers who had been using them as part of their enterprise for so long,” Mrs Maesepp said.

“However, while the details of each site varied, the key messages were surprisingly consistent – all had made positive impacts on soil health and productivity.”

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