Environment Salt of the earth

Salt of the earth

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear something good about the environment?

Amid all the gloom, researchers at Flinders University have discovered at least one thing that seems to be getting better.

Dryland salinity – currently a devastating problem for Australian agriculture – may have peaked in places and be gradually improving.

Clearing native vegetation and replacing it with short-rooted crops and pasture allowed more rain to penetrate the soil, eventually raising the level of ground water and with it the amount of salt at the surface.

This has caused significant problems for both farming and native wildlife but the Flinders University research suggests it may be resolving.

A study of detailed records from the Scott Creek Catchment in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills showed rainfall was naturally flushing salt out of the system at a rate of 6.4 tonnes per annum.

If sustained, the process would restore natural salt balance by 2090, about 300 years after the clearing of native forests began in the area.

That may sound slow but it’s actually a lot faster than anyone expected and it came as a pleasant to surprise to researchers.

Research to understand salinity is only possible if we support our universities. To keep Australia clever, please sign the petition below.