Cotton salinity threats identified

Sunday, 11 February, 2001

In the cotton growing areas of Australia, isolated instances of soil salinity have occurred. This has resulted primarily as a result of irrigation inefficiencies, particularly from leaking water storage's and supply channels.

In order to provide natural resource information about where this is likely to occur, methods and techniques have been developed by Dr John Triantafilis and his University of Sydney team as part of the Australian Cotton Cooperative Research Centre. A Mobile Electromagnetic Sensing System (MESS) is a key tool for the research. Able to detect subsurface changes in soil water and salinity levels, the MESS can be used at a field, farm or regional scale.

These methods are being applied in cotton growing areas of the lower Macintyre, Gwydir, Namoi and Macquarie valleys as well as the Bourke irrigation district.

At the fieldscale, to the team was able to identify a shallow perched water table in the lower Gwydir valley caused by a leaking supply channel, which coincided with a sandier prior streambed..

"Using these approaches we were able to recommend some management solutions such as lining the channel, redirecting water to other channels, and not using this particular channel for water storage" said Dr. Triantifilis.

For more information please contact Dr John Triantifilis on 02 9351 2398 or Dr Mark Silburn 07 4688 1281.

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