Great Southern Development Commission medal winner backs saltbush seedlings in salinity trial

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Shannon SmithGreat Southern Herald
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Ian Walsh.
Camera IconIan Walsh.

Cranbrook farmer Ian Walsh has shared how winning the Great Southern Development Commission medal in 2019 has helped his salinity trial, ahead of the announcement of the 2021 medal winner next week.

In June 2019, Mr Walsh claimed the sterling silver medal in recognition of his innovative work to reduce the impact of salinity on his farm.

At the time, he was using salt-tolerant plants to reclaim degraded land.

The prestigious GSDC medal came with a $5000 grant to help him develop his research. Now he has put the funding towards a trial of 4000 grey saltbush seedlings, to be planted in spring.

He said he had tried the species 30 years ago but discarded it in favour of others.

“Saltbush is a pioneer species that draws down salt and allows other species to grow in between the rows,” Mr Walsh said.

“I class them as a heap of solar pumps. We’ve only been working on saltbush for 35 years but we have been selectively breeding wheat for thousands of years.”

Katanning’s Bev Lockley is one of the three finalists for this year’s award for her work with Katanning Landcare and other groups.

Frankland River’s Steve and Geraldine Janicke are nominated together for their achievements in research and education about the region’s waterways and catchments. The third finalist is hydrologist Ruhi Ferdowsian, for his contributions to water knowledge and fighting salinity.

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