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Agricultural Systems for Saline Soil: The Potential Role of Livestock

  • Masters, D.G. (CSIRO Livestock Industries, Centre for Environment and Life Sciences and CRC for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity) ;
  • Norman, H.C. (CSIRO Livestock Industries, Centre for Environment and Life Sciences and CRC for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity) ;
  • Barrett-Lennard, E.G. (Department of Agriculture of Western Australia and CRC for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity)
  • Received : 2004.05.19
  • Accepted : 2004.09.16
  • Published : 2005.02.01

Abstract

Human-induced soil salinity is becoming a major threat to agriculture across the world. This salinisation occurs in both irrigated and rain-fed agricultural zones with the highest proportions in the arid and semi-arid environments. Livestock can play an important role in the management and rehabilitation of this land. There are a range of plants that grow in saline soils and these have been used as animal feed. In many situations, animal production has been poor as a result of low edible biomass production, low nutritive value, depressed appetite, or a reduction in efficiency of energy use. Feeding systems are proposed that maximise the feeding value of plants growing on saline land and integrate their use with other feed resources available within mixed livestock and crop farming systems. Salt-tolerant pastures, particularly the chenopod shrubs, have moderate digestible energy and high crude protein. For this reason they represent a good supplement for poor quality pastures and crop residues. The use of salt-tolerant pasture systems not only provides feed for livestock but also may act as a bio-drain to lower saline water tables and improve the soil for growth of alternative less salt tolerant plants. In the longer term there are opportunities to identify and select more appropriate plants and animals for saline agriculture.

Keywords

Ruminants;Salinity;Chenopod;Nutritive Value;Sodium Chloride;Feed Intake

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