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Soil salinity

What is it?

Soil salinity occurs when salts accumulate in the soil profile to such an extent that plant growth is adversely affected.

It can occur in both dryland areas and in irrigated areas although the mechanisms of accumulation may differ between the two.

Areas of soil salinity can be identified by the presence of salt tolerant species see - Salinity Indicator Plants - A guide to spotting soil salting.

Examples of soil degradation - Soil Salinity
Bare ground produced by salt accumulation with erosion occurring as a consequence


Salinity reduces plant production and can damage communities as farm income drops and spending within a community decreases. The physical environment changes both in the immediate area (with degradation of wildlife habitat and the environment) and down-stream from the affected areas. Rivers and streams receive salt laden run-off and sediment as soil structure degrades and erosion occurs. The quality of water supplies for urban, livestock and domestic purposes deteriorates.

Secondary salinity occurs throughout Victoria, with 120,000 hectares identified to date.

Salt affected soil profiles can cause considerable disruption to agricultural ecosystems. A Soil and landscape assessment in the upper Bet Bet Creek catchment is provided to demonstrated this.


Rarely can one land manager solve a salinity problem. While sometimes causes and effects can be seen within a single farm; mostly the cause and effects cross property boundaries. Everyone in a catchment is affected by the agricultural activities of others in it. Therefore effective salinity management requires a total catchment approach.

Since the establishment of Victoria's salinity management program in 1998, the State Government, supported by the Commonwealth, has worked in partnership with communities to develop and implement Salinity Management Plans.

Related Links

Much salinity planning has been carried out in Victoria since 1998. This is summarised on the salinity program page. Mapping information is available also - see Mapping Soil Salinity using Satellite Imagery.
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