Possible benefits from fence and volunteer pasture

1.     Production
Across a wide range of saltland sites, research in SGSL indicated that ‘fence and volunteer pasture’ could produce approximately 60% that expected from a fully improved saltland pasture. As soil salinity increases the relative advantage of a sown saltland pasture declines until at the highest salinity levels the volunteer species will be as productive as sown species.

2.     Conservation and amenity
There have been no studies that set out to examine the conservation and amenity value from the fence and volunteer pasture solution. However, at one of the SGSL research sites (in NSW), the control plots increased groundcover significantly over time, reducing bare ground from 31% to 11% over a 3 year period of rotational grazing. The sown saltland pasture showed a similar decline in bare ground.

3.     $$’s
The great advantage of this solution is that it avoids the significant costs and risk of failure associated with pasture establishment and management. Even where a sown pasture is more productive, it will not necessarily be more profitable.

Whole farm economic modelling in SGSL for more temperate and summer rainfall areas from SA through to NSW, showed that fence and volunteer pasture gave better marginal returns than sown saltland pasture because of the lower cost. In the summer dry areas of WA the reverse was true – there was a small increase in whole farm profit from simply fencing the saltland but a larger profit was generated by saltbush and understorey pasture.

Related Links: