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Improved salinity management for the Nebine / Mungallala / Wallam catchment

Wolfenden, John, Gray, Matthew, & Evans, Michael (2006) Improved salinity management for the Nebine / Mungallala / Wallam catchment. University of New England, Armidale, NSW.

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Abstract

The low stream salinity naturally in the Nebine-Mungallala Catchment, extent of vegetation retention, relatively low rainfall and high evaporation indicates that there is a relatively low risk of rising shallow groundwater tables in the catchment. Scalding caused by wind and water erosion exposing highly saline sub-soils is a more important regional issue, such as in the Homeboin area. Local salinisation associated with evaporation of bore water from free flowing bore drains and bores is also an important land degradation issue particularly in the lower Nebine, Wallam and Mungallala Creeks. The replacement of free flowing artesian bores and bore drains with capped bores and piped water systems under the Great Artesian Basin bore rehabilitation program is addressing local salinisation and scalding in the vicinity of bore drains and preventing the discharge of saline bore water to streams. Three principles for the prevention and control of salinity in the Nebine Mungallala catchment have been identified in this review: • Avoid salinity through avoiding scalds – i.e. not exposing the near-surface salt in landscape through land degradation; • Riparian zone management: Scalding often occurs within 200m or so of watering lines. Natural drainage lines are most likely to be overstocked, and thus have potential for scalding. Scalding begins when vegetation is removed, and without that binding cover, wind and water erosion exposes the subsoil; and • Monitoring of exposed or grazed soil areas. Based on the findings of the study, we make the following recommendations: 1. Undertake a geotechnical study of existing maps and other data to help identify and target areas most at risk of rising water tables causing salinity. Selected monitoring should then be established using piezometers as an early warning system. 2. SW NRM should financially support scald reclamation activity through its various funding programs. However, for this to have any validity in the overall management of salinity risk, it is critical that such funding require the landholder to undertake a salinity hazard/risk assessment of his/her holding. 3. A staged approach to funding may be appropriate. In the first instance, it would be reasonable to commence funding some pilot scald reclamation work with a view to further developing and piloting the farm hazard/risk assessment tools, and exploring how subsequent grazing management strategies could be incorporated within other extension and management activities. Once the details of the necessary farm level activities have been more clearly defined, and following the outcomes of the geotechnical review recommended above, a more comprehensive funding package could be rolled out to priority areas. 4. We recommend that best-practice grazing management training currently on offer should be enhanced with information about salinity risk in scald-prone areas, and ways of minimising the likelihood of scald formation. 5. We recommend that course material be developed for local students in Years 6 and 7, and that arrangements be made with local schools to present this information. Given the constraints of existing syllabi, we envisage that negotiations may have to be undertaken with the Department of Education in order for this material to be permitted to be used. We have contact with key people who could help in this if required.

  1. We recommend that SW NRM continue to support existing extension activities such as Grazing Land Management and the Monitoring Made Easy tools. These aids should be able to be easily expanding to incorporate techniques for monitoring, addressing and preventing salinity and scalding. At the time of writing staff of SW NRM were actively involved in this process. It is important that these activities are adequately resourced to facilitate the uptake by landholders of the perception that salinity is an issue that needs to be addressed as part of everyday management.
  2. We recommend that SW NRM consider investing in the development and deployment of a scenario-modelling learning support tool as part of the awareness raising and education activities. Secondary salinity is a dynamic process that results from ongoing human activity which mobilises and/or exposes salt occurring naturally in the landscape. Time scales can be short to very long, and the benefits of management actions can similarly have immediate or very long time frames. One way to help explain the dynamics of these processes is through scenario modelling.

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ID Code: 41387
Item Type: Report
Additional URLs:
Keywords: salinity, community engagement
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT (050200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > SOIL SCIENCES (050300) > Land Capability and Soil Degradation (050302)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES (070000) > AGRICULTURE LAND AND FARM MANAGEMENT (070100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Environmental Sociology (160802)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 21 Apr 2011 09:04
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2011 00:34

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