Management consideration for Saltbush & understorey

1.     Establishment
The establishment of the saltbush is usually a more challenging and expensive task than for the understorey. Planting out nursery-raised saltbush seedlings reduces the risk of failure, but significantly increases the cost. Where direct seeding of saltbush is possible then it provides a significantly cheaper option but this is only recommended for lighter textured soils, or where there is a sandy layer over clay.

A two-stage operation is needed, with the understorey sown in autumn and the saltbush sown or planted in early spring after spraying out the understorey along the planting rows.

2.     Management and grazing
Established saltbush stands are very persistent, resisting drought, salinity and frost. The under-storey is more vulnerable because it has to re-establish each year which is more difficult in sites with higher levels of salinity and waterlogging.

Annual hard grazing (back to the sticks!) in autumn when farm feed supplies are usually lowest is the most common grazing practice for saltbush & understorey, and both ‘components’ of the pasture will persist well under this regime. As the area of this pasture type increases on a farm, grazing at other times of the year may be needed.

3.     Animal nutrition
The understorey overcomes the major animal nutrition limitations that exist if sheep or cattle are grazing saltbush alone. The high salt content of the saltbush severely restricts intake and neither sheep nor cattle can maintain condition if there is not understorey or supplementation available.

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