Grant will go towards combating salinity

Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
The Gillamii Centre in Cranbook.
Camera IconThe Gillamii Centre in Cranbook. Credit: Supplied

Salinity problems on Great Southern farms will become a priority, with The Gillamii Centre receiving a $250,000 grant from the State Government’s Natural Resource Management fund.

The Cranbrook-based grower group will establish a central database for research on farming in saline areas and provide training and workshops to develop plans for salt-affected regions.

Gillamii Centre executive officer Karina Bateman said it was estimated between 1 and 2 million hectares in the agricultural regions of the South West were salt-affected.

“The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development calculates that the opportunity cost of lost agricultural production as a result of dry land salinity since 2009-10 is $519 million per annum,” she said.

“Without some level of intervention, dry land salinity will continue to be a significant cost and major risk to WA. The extent of salinity-affected land in the South West is expected to more than double in the next 50-100 years to about 5.4 million hectares and of this, 4.5 million hectares is agricultural land.”

A recent community survey conducted by the group reported more than half of respondents in the Gillamii area reported salinity as the greatest cost to production on their farms.

Ms Bateman said the group would also use the grant to look into technologies such as the direct drill seeding of saltbush.

“This project will use well-established science with new technology, giving us a wider range of learning tools such as podcasts and videos ... and a series of apps for paper-based tools,” she said.

“This project builds on work completed in over the last 25 years through the sustainable grazing of saline lands project.”

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