WA leads salt fight

18 Dec, 2002 10:00 PM
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WA farmers are leaders in the fight against salinity, an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey has found.

It revealed that as the state worst effected by salt, with more than 50pc of its farms showing signs of salinity, WA had taken some of the biggest steps toward resolving the problem.

WA planted more trees, fenced off more land and conducted more earthworks, including levees, banks and drains, than any other state.

Of the 7000 farms, or 1.24 million hectares of agricultural land effected by salinity, WA had attempted to tackle the problem on 950,000 hectares with the salinity management strategies.

Out of 780,000 hectares planted to trees across the nation, WA made up 500,000ha.

However, only 67pc of its agricultural land showing signs of salinity was within National Action Plan program regions - compared to 100pc in the Northern Territory, 94pc in Victoria, 90pc in NSW/ACT, and 75pc in Tasmania. South Australia and Queensland were the only state that fell behind WA.

Farmers Australia wide claimed the main barriers to change had been financial resources, which 36pc considered very limiting, and lack of time, which 21pc thought was be the most limiting factor.

Most farmers did not consider doubts about the likely success of programs or lack of information to be barriers.

Survey director Bob Harrison said farmers had responded positively to question about salinity and its management.

"Farmers are the ones closest to the issue and are making daily decisions about what to do with around 60pc of the nation's land," Mr Harrison said.

Broadacre farms accounted for 97pc of the nation's salt-effected land.

But a key finding was that 30,000 farms across Australia had changed land management practices to fight salinity.

In a deliberate attempt to fight salinity farmers had sewn total of 3.2mha to crop, pastures and fodder, planted 780,000ha of trees, fenced off 470,000ha, used earthworks on 210,000ha and changed irrigation practices on 7000 farms.

WA farm efforts accounted for 633,000 or one fifth of the Australian total of crops, pasture, fodder sewn to fight salt, and the third largest area.

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