Visually identifying soils

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Use the following indicators to identify problem soils. Soil testing may need to be carried out to confirm the source of the problem.

  • Patchy growth areas of pastures
  • Loss of productive pasture species
  • Trees dying for no apparent reason
  • Waterlogging and permanently wet areas
  • Bare patches that increase in size and are prone to erosion
  • Evidence of salt accumulation on the surface of bare patches
  • Indicator species including rushes, sea barley grass, couch grass, strawberry clover and annual beard grass
  • Regional and perched water tables.
Indicators of saline land
Salinity rating Indicator species Other indicators
Low
  • No limitation to desirable species
  • Even growth of pastures
  • Even growth of pastures
Moderate
  • Wimmera ryegrass (Lolium rigidum)
  • Water buttons (Cotula coronopifolia)
  • Windmill grass (Chloris truncate)
  • Wallaby grass (Danthonia eriantha)
  • Spiny rush (Juncus acutus)
  • Sea barley grass (Hordeum marinum)
  • Couch grass (Cynodon dactylon)
  • Reduced growth in areas
  • Clovers, capeweed disappear
  • Grasses are pale from low nitrogen due to lack of clover and salt effects
  • Generally no bare areas
  • Reduced growth in areas
  • Clovers, capeweed disappear
  • Grasses are pale from low nitrogen due to lack of clover and salt effects
  • Generally no bare areas
High
  • Sea barley grass
  • Couch grass
  • Windmill grass
  • Spiny rush
  • Creeping brookweed (Samolus repens)
  • Ice plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum)
  • Australian salt grass (Distichlis distichiphylla)
  • Annual beard grass (Polypogon monspeliensis)
  • White crystals may appear on the bare soil when the soil is dry
  • Animals graze and lick salty areas
  • Water in dams and drains may become very clear
  • Water table shallow (<1m)
  • Clay soils may have appearance of being well structured
  • White crystals may appear on the bare soil when the soil is dry
  • Animals graze and lick salty areas
  • Water in dams and drains may become very clear
  • Water table shallow (<1m)
  • Clay soils may have appearance of being well structured

 

Extreme
  • Samphire (Halosarcia pergranulata)
  • Sea blite (Suaeda australis)
  • Trees will be dying
  • Areas of bare ground
  • Sheet and gully erosion
  • Water table at or close to the soil surface
  • Areas of bare ground
  • Sheet and gully erosion
  • Water table at or close to the soil surface
Source: Making More from Sheep, www.makingmorefromsheep.com.au

 

Further information