Level of confidence in puccinellia

1.     Farmer experiences
Most of the documented farmer experiences with puccinellia are from the Upper Southeast of SA where it is clearly the saltland pasture species of choice. However, as the comments below from the Eyre Peninsula show, it can perform well in other salty/waterlogged situations:

“When you have 250 ha of salt-affected land, two thirds of which only grows samphire, you have to take it seriously,” says Geoff, who runs a mixed enterprise (cereal cropping, pigs and sheep) farm in partnership with his brother John. Of the 250 ha of saline flats, previously classed as having a grazing value somewhere between ‘low productivity’ and ‘useless’, 100 ha has so far been planted to puccinellia. The improvements in pasture quality equate to a jump in grazing potential from less than 1 DSE/ha to 5-8 DSE/ha.

2.     Research
Research into solutions for saltland in Australia have focussed primarily on 4 of the saltland options – ie. puccinellia, tall wheatgrass, dense saltbush plantings, and saltbush with under-storey. As a result, there is more research information on these options than any of the others, and there is more documented farmer experience. These factors combine to underpin the reliability of the information presented in this Saltland Solution about puccinellia based pastures.

3.     Risks and challenges
Establishment can be a significant challenge because puccinellia seedlings are small and compete poorly with weeds.

It is important to get the site selection and preparation right, because while puccinellia can grow on sites without waterlogging and relatively high salinity, it is a poor competitor on such sites. As such, puccinellia poses minimal weed risk, and won’t dominate a sward like tall wheatgrass.

4.     Future prospects
Puccinellia based pastures will continue to be the mainstay ‘saltland pasture’ in the Upper South East of South Australia. Puccinellia based pastures will continue to find niches in WA, Victoria and NSW, but where it will much more often be part of a saltland pasture mix than a pure puccinellia based pasture.

The prospects for puccinellia based pastures would be materially enhanced if a reliable saltland legume were to be developed, thus reducing the need for nitrogen fertiliser which significantly improves the nutritive value of the pasture.

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