Salt, Dust and Desertification – Reversing the Trend

Callum LoveAgriculture, Biodiversity, Coorow, Geology & Soils, Land Use

By the late 1970s, Waddy Forest farmers, David and Fiona Falconer, recognised the long-term viability of their grain-growing property was being threatened by dryland salinity. Areas of the farm were becoming increasingly unsuitable to grow crops and pastures, bare salt scalds were appearing, and there was a noticeable decline in the health of remnant vegetation.

They knew that dryland salinity had been caused by over-clearing the native vegetation for agriculture. Common sense suggested that revegetation would be a solution, but there was little knowledge available at the time as to where and what to plant. Their first revegetation planting consisted of just 10 trees, hand-planted into a salt scald on a degraded creek–line, and protected from sheep by tree guards made from netting and steel posts.

In subsequent years, more trees and shrubs were planted and the site was fenced-off from livestock. David and Fiona said the site began to get a ‘life of its own’ – with formation of biotic crust and natural regeneration from the original sparse trees and shrubs including York Gum (Eucalyptus loxophleba), Inland Bottlebrush (Callistemon phoeniceus), and Melaleuca sp.

In the late 1980s David and Fiona joined the recently formed Waddy Forest Land Conservation District Committee
(Waddy Forest LCDC), which they described as “a game changer”, allowing them to access Department of Agriculture expert advice and support, and enabling them to implement a suite of landcare practices to monitor, revegetate, erect protective fencing, and manage pest weeds and feral animals.

Driven by their need to mitigate dryland salinity, combined with their strong interest and commitment to biodiversity conservation, David and Fiona have restored native vegetation cover to previously bare, salt encroached and eroded areas, with a subsequent return in biodiversity and the arrest of land being lost for agricultural production.

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This case study was produced by the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council, through funding from
the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program as part of the Regional Landcare Facilitator
project. NACC expresses its thanks to David and Fiona Falconer for sharing their unique farm story and
congratulate them for their hard and fruitful work in landcare over many years in the region.
For more information
For more information about this case study, please contact NACCs Regional Landcare Facilitator
Stanley Yokwe on (08) 9938 0105 or at: