1300 785 277

Coorong Tatiara
Local Action Plan

Dryland Salinity

On this page you will find Dryland Salinity information covering;

- Background - the history of dryland salinity across the Upper South East

- The recently held Dryland Salinity Information Sessions and accompanying presentations

- Useful links to other web sites such as; Saltland Genie, Saltland Pastures SA Manual, Water Connect – Groundwater Data, and more….

To jump straight to information about salt tolerant pastures please click here


To jump straight to information about the Saltland Pasture Redemption Project please click here


Recent Salinity Trends

Recently some parts of the Coorong District Council area have observed a sudden increase in the area of land being affected by dryland salinity. As part of our 2018 field days the Coorong Tatiara Local Action Plan have sourced the information below covering:
Groundwater Trends Coomandook_Meningie(773 kb), &

hydrograph image

Trends in Dryland Salinity across SA(267 kb)
Please click on these links to access the reports.


Dryland Salinity Landholder Survey

To better understand these trends we are seeking your assistance. If you have areas of dryland salinity on your place, or have areas that you believe are at risk we would really appreciate it if could fill out this quick on line survery by clicking on the link below
On line Dryland Salinity Survey
OR you can fill out this printable survey and return it to us.


survey image

This information will be used to;
- Raise awareness of the issue of increasing areas of dryland salinity with Government and Funding Bodies
- Be used in funding applications to illustrate the size of the issue
All individual landholder and farm details will remain confidential
Completed surveys can be returned to:
E: tstrugnell@coorong.sa.gov.au
FAX: 87 572 222
POST: Tracey Strugnell - Coorong Tatiara Local Action Plan - PO Box 399 - TAILEM BEND SA 5260



A huge amount of salt is stored in the subsurface soils underlying parts of the Coorong and Tatiara. Historically this salt was accumulated when the area was originally covered with seawater. In the Mallee highland zone the salt is held at depth while on the Coastal plains it is much closer to the surface. A dryland salinity problem emerges when the salts are mobilised and carried upwards by a rising water table and surface evaporation.

Originally the deep rooted native vegetation cover kept the watertables at depth by providing a balance between rainfall recharge and evapo-transpiration. However with clearance of scrub lands and their replacement with shallow rooted annual crops and pastures, this balance is disrupted and more rainfall reached the watertable causing a general rise bringing the dissolved salts closer to the surface.

The Water Cycle and Dryland Salinity


The widespread sowing of lucerne in the ranges when the land was first cleared assisted in keeping watertables in check, however the pasture aphid invasions of the late 1970’s and the dramatic loss of susceptible lucerne stands at that time led to a general watertable rise and a rapid spread of dryland salinity in adjacent low lying areas.

Where the summer – autumn watertable is within two metres of the soil surface the effects of dryland salinity are likely to be most severe. Groundwater is drawn up through the soil profile by capillary action, eventually evaporating as it reaches the surface, leaving the salts at or near the topsoil root zone.

The Upper South East Dryland Salinity and Flood Management Program was designed to remove excess surface water and saline groundwater from the salty flats on the Coastal plains and direct it into the Coorong or out to sea via the Blackford Drain. However the lateral effects of the drains in reducing adjacent dryland salinity on pasture land are still being assessed due to a run of dry years.

Within the Coorong District, 57,000ha (8-9%) of agricultural land was affected by dryland salinity (2000). If trends continue another 70 000 ha (10-11% ) will be at risk by 2020. Since that time, the Coorong District has had a long run of dry years. The Coorong Tatiara Local Action Plan has been involved in recharge reduction works across 14-18% of the District. Groundwater levels have mainly stabilised or dropped, although water tables are still rising in some areas. Over recent years landholders and agronomists report new dryland salinity affected, due in part to heavy summer rainfall events.

Managing the issue

Adoption and re-establishment of salt tolerant pasture species on drained low-lying land.

Continuing research on alternative pasture legumes suitable for saline soils eg. Messina.

Re-establishment of deep rooted perennial pasture species on high ground, preferably lucerne, to minimise annual recharge. This may include clay spreading on the dune rises.

Use of perennial fodder shrubs.

Retention, rehabilitation or re-establishment of native vegetation.

Grazing managementpractices that maximise summer – autumngroundcover.

Investigation of other techniques such as; mulching, pasture cropping, opportunity cropping, recharge capture (such as lined catchments, inland aquaculture, and biomass production.


Dryland Salinity Information Sessions

Dryland Salinity Information Sessions were held at Coomandook and Meningie on Wednesday the 6th of July 2016 by the Coorong Tatiara Local Action Plan with the support of Natural Resources SA Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources and Natural Resources South East.

These sessions were well attended. Below are links to all of the presentations given at the sessions, and notes from the discussions, providing further information about addressing dryland salinity at these locations. 

Dryland Salinity Information Sessions Flyer




Dryland Salinity Background Coomandook(2865 kb)

Dryland Salinity Background Meningie(2090 kb)


Regional Groundwater Trends

Steve Barnett - Principal Hydrogeologist - DEWNR - Regional Groundwater Trends Presentation(4016 kb)

Further information about regional hydrogeology in the Coomandook and Meningie areas can be found by clicking on the hyperlink below:



Soil Chemistry in Saline Areas

Rebecca Tonkin - Rural Solutions SA - Soil Chemistry in Saline Areas Presentation(2148 kb)



Below are links to notes taken from the general discussion at the Coomandook and Meningie Information Sessions. 

Coomandook Discussion(72 kb)

Coomandook Dryland Salinity Session 06.07.2016

DEWNR Principal Hydrogeologist Steve Barnett has provided us with step by step instructions for accessing up to date data for the Coomandook Landcare Observation Wells.

Accessing the Coomandook Landcare Observation Wells data(354 kb)


Meningie Discussion(96 kb)

Meningie Dryland Salinity Session 06.07.2016


Useful Links

Saltland Genie

Saltland Genie is an interactive website that provides landholders and their advisors with advice and recommendation to boost the productivity of their saline land.

Besides providing advice on the most suitable pasture options and how best to manage salt affected land, Saltland Genie contains the largest collection in the country of information about Australian dryland salinity. There are research papers, case studies, videos and stories from farmers that provide scientific and personal insights into how salinity can be managed to boost productivity and improve the environment.



Saltland Pasture Manual Cover

This Salt Land Pastures South Australia Manual provides information about saltland pastures and fodder shrubs, and is targeted at land managers, agronomists and extension workers. Information is based on trial and demonstration work carried out across South Australia, and much of it from within our region.

Saltland Pastures South Australia Manual(4706 kb)

After looking through this manual land managers should be able to;

  • Better understand the potential of saltland pastures and fodder shrubs

  • Recognise suitable pasture plants for different classes of saltland

  • Use tools for evaluating economic performance

  • Better understanding of whether saltland productions systems are likely to be a success for them

  • Characterise their saltland
  • Appreciate other site factors that influence production and profitability
  • Access tried and tested establishment and management techniques
  • Appreciate the payoffs and pitfalls experienced by other farmers working with saltland


Water Connect Obswell Web Page

Water Connect - Groundwater Data  Click here to find information on wells and groundwater in South Australia using this interactive online map.


Groundwater Data has information on over 240,000 registered wells across South Australia. It is easy to browse for wells using the Google Maps platform, including satellite imagery. Other search options include: by property, well construction permit number, and GPS co-ordinates.

Trends in groundwater and salinity levels are monitored over time using data from both private and government wells, assisting in groundwater resource management. 

DEWNR Principal Hydrogeologist Steve Barnett has provided us with the following document explaining step by step how to successfully access groundwater data from this website.

How to access groundwater data from the Water Connect website(1274 kb) 


He has also provided step by step instructions for accessing up to date data for the Coomandook Landcare Observation Wells.

Accessing the Coomandook Landcare Observation Wells data(354 kb)


Water Salinity tolerance of different Plants and Livestock  

This brochure from the Victorian Dept of Sustainability and Environment, and Dept of Primary Industries provides easy to follow information on: salt tolerance of different plant species, salt tolerance of livestock, and a salinity conversion table. 


Salinity Conversion Table


You have nearly every other tool in your shed. Why not have a hand held EC Meter to measure salinity levels in your water and soil? 

Hand held EC meter article(420 kb)

Hand held EC meter


Natural Resources South East Acknowledgement Statement(257 kb)

Natural Resources SAMDB Connecting Communities Acknowledging Grants Fact Sheet(357 kb)



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Contact Council

Coorong District Council

95-101 Railway Terrace, Tailem Bend SA 5260

PO Box 399, Tailem Bend SA 5260

Call: 1300 785 277


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