Saltbush & understorey in a nutshell

Saltland Solution 4 Saltbush and under-storey is now the most recommended saltland pasture option for low rainfall (ie low waterlogging) sites. The majority of suitable saltland sites are in the wheatbelt of WA, but there are significant opportunities available in the drier wheat growing regions of SA, Victoria and NSW.

Research and farmer experience have shown that the under-storey provides the bulk of the nutrition for grazing animals. Saltbush is usually sown in multiple rows, with a wider alley between the sets of rows for the under-storey – in this configuration, saltbush may have 500 to 600 stems/ha but this can vary quite widely depending on the width of the alley ways. The saltbush species for this option should be old man saltbush – it has higher nutritive value than river saltbush and wavy leaf saltbush.

The saltbush in ‘saltbush & understorey’ has two key roles:

  1. Using water over summer to dry out the soil and draw down the watertable so that the surface soil can be leached of salt and therefore support a more productive and nutritious understorey;
  2. Providing some green feed in autumn, the time of greatest shortage on most farms.

The understorey in ‘saltbush & understorey’ also has two key roles:

  1. The primary role is to provide quality feed for livestock;
  2. A secondary role is providing groundcover to minimise surface evaporation and salt build-up.

The most frequently recommended annual species for sowing as under-storey in a saltbush-based pasture are balansa clover, burr medic and barrel medic, plus annual and Italian ryegrasses. 

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