Road deterioration and crumbling caused by salinity
Areas of bare soil where plants have failed to germinate and grow
Areas affected by salinity may cover a few square metres to many hectares and fluctuate depending on the contributing factors . It is important to monitor the changes in land salinity in order to assess resource condition.
The indicators below are signs to look out for in identifying a salinity problem.
Changes on the ground including:
- ground surface becoming permanently or seasonally waterlogged (or remaining damp) after extended periods of rain
- intermittent streams flowing for longer periods
- areas of bare soil—in worst case, crystals of various salts are present
- increase in salt-tolerant plants in an area
- rising damp in buildings
- deterioration in the quality of groundwater or surface water
- livestock rejecting water
- road deterioration and crumbling
- rising groundwater levels in bores.
Changes in vegetation including:
- non-salt tolerant plants are replace by salt-tolerant species
- dieback of vegetation in low-lying areas
- failure of plants to germinate or grow
- changing pasture composition and reduced diversity from salt tolerant plants dominating (e.g. couch grass).
Some land-use activities cause the watertable to rise and thus carry salts closer to the surface or into surface water systems—causing salinity problems. These include excessive irrigation and clearing of deep-rooted vegetation (such as native trees and grasses). Therefore this can:
- retard or kill crops and vegetation
- increase soil erosion
- increase salt pollution of rivers and dams—harming water supplies for drinking and irrigation
- damage roads, fences, railways and buildings
- harm natural ecosystems.
The National Land and Water Resources Audit through the National Coordination Committee for Salinity Information has developed a set of four indicators and protocols to assist in evaluating changes in land salinity. These indicators are:
- groundwater salinity
- depth to groundwater
- baseflow salinity
- location, size and intensity of salt-affected areas.
- Fact sheet L53—Identifying and monitoring salt affected areas (PDF, 90K)*
* Requires Adobe Reader
Last reviewed 10 April 2012
Last updated 13 October 2010