SaltCap

Saltland with Saltbush and Sandfires bushes in forground

SaltCap

Overview
The SaltCap project ran from October 2011 to June 2013. It aimed to help farmers choose what to plant and where in challenging saltland environments. The project worked with farmers in the Shires of Wongan-Ballidu, Bruce Rock, Trayning and surrounding Shires in areas at high risk of spreading salinity.
Delivery Organisation
Wheatbelt NRM
Contact

Felicity Gilbert

Program Manager – Sustainable Industries

Phone: (08) 9670 3112

Email: fgilbert@wheatbeltnrm.org.au

SaltCap gives you information about managing saltland areas on your property. It is a decision support tool developed by the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FFI CRC) and is publicly available through the Saltland Genie website.


SaltCap helps landholders choose suitable management options for saline land. The tool helps you understand what affects saltland capability – a salt-affected site’s ability to support pasture and other saltland plants – so you can decide the best management for production and financial gains.


Management options encourage maintaining healthy salt-tolerant groundcover and perennial vegetation. Changes will alter the vegetation type, grazing and cropping regimes, and other farming practices on saltland. These changes have many benefits, including:

  • reducing soil loss through water and wind erosion
  • improving soil health and carbon content
  • improved production
  • improved overall health of the saltland system

 

Achievements

This project provided useful evaluation information to the FFI CRC on using the SaltCap tool. SaltCap provides site-specific recommendations that a farmer might not normally consider. Education activities linked to the project included a workshop, workshop extension, 3 field days and indirect information through media releases.

 

During this project, 18/19 farmers carried out SaltCap recommendations after taking part in these activities. Before the project, 13 of the 18/19 farmers involved/surveyed were unaware of SaltCap. After the project:

  • all 18/19 had increased their knowledge of current practices for managing salinity
  • all said they found the tool useful
  • all will use it again to help them make future management decisions

This shows a direct relationship between using the tool and its ability to provide useful recommendations.

The project offered a subsidy to participating farmers for seedlings to establish their sites. This was a great success, as management was improved over a larger area than if the project had fully paid for the seedlings. Farmer contribution was also greater than in other revegetation projects, where projects fully pay for seedlings. There was no negative feedback from farmers about the subsidised seedlings. We hope that entering into a cost-sharing arrangement for seedlings will mean that NRM activities are included in farm budgets in future years.

Significant investments are made to develop new decision support tools for farmers and yet adoption rates are very low. This project found that directly linking funding to SaltCap’s onground application increased its value for farmers.

 

The practices adopted during the project included:

  • planting deep-rooted, perennial, salt-tolerant forage shrubs
  • improved annual pastures with moderate salt tolerance
  • perennial pastures

 

Comments from farmers using the SaltCap decision support tool included:

  • “Terrific program that deals with waterlogging and water and wind erosion” Darryl Richards, farmer.
  • “It made unproductive areas productive and improved soil health” Joel Lancaster, farmer.

 

Additional information can be found on the Saltland Genie website.

 

This project received funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country Program.