Likely situations for saltland legumes

1.         Salinity and waterlogging
It is difficult to generalise about the potential saltland legumes because they differ so greatly in their ability to tolerate waterlogging - from balansa clover that thrives over winter even if the soil surface is covered with water, to lucerne and burr medic which are quite intolerant of waterlogging.  What is general is that all the legumes prefer non-saline soils but can perform quite well at low salinity levels (2-4 dS/m).

Most likely situations for saltland legumes

Subsoil salinity/ depth to watertable matrix





Drivers of legume zonation

  • Low salinity tolerance
  • Non-halophytes and very limited salinity tolerance
  • Some are sensitive to waterlogging, others thrive
  • Annuals more promising than perennials
  • Reestablishment of annual legumes an additional challenge
  • Rainfall >300mm


Key to symbols

red dot

This is the zone most preferred by saltbush and where it is highly recommended;

Small Dot

Saltbush is one of the possible options for this zone but it is outside its preferred conditions;

2.         Climate and soils
The potential saltland legumes differ greatly in their soil and climatic requirements.  The simple solution is to only include legumes in a saltland pasture mix if they are already good performers on non-saline sites in your district.

3.         Indicator species
Balansa and strawberry clovers and melilotus species thrive in conditions with winter waterlogging but only low levels of salinity.  These are conditions that often favour buck’s horn plantain, Yorkshire fog, toad rush and spiny rush.
The legumes that can tolerate moderate salinity (burr medic and lucerne) cannot tolerate waterlogging – conditions that are more suited to sea barley grass, annual ryegrass, prairie grass or windmill grass.

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