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Weekend Wanderings: Salt around Swan Hill

There is a big environmental problem around Swan Hill and right through the Mallee. The really sad part about it is that it is a man made problem and is only going to get worse if nothing is done to stop it ruining all the soil up there. Β The problem is salinity or salt in the soil.

As you drive around you can see the salt pans every where, more in some areas than others. I did some research to find out what causes it and have this extract for you from an article Salinity and water quality fact sheetΒ by the Australian Government.

Secondary salinity has occurred with widespread land clearing and altered land use, and may take the form of “dryland salinity” or “irrigation-induced salinity”. Dryland salinity occurs when deep-rooted native plants are removed or replaced with shallow-rooted plants that use less water. As a result of this vegetation imbalance, more water passes through soil to groundwater, raising the water table and bringing salt to the surface where it can be left behind as the water evaporates. Irrigation-induced salinity occurs when excess water applied to crops travels past the root zone to groundwater, raising the water table and salt to the surface. Salt may also be transported across groundwater systems.

I hope that helps explain why it happens. I have some photos for you now of two areas that I photographed. I hope your weekend is good, it has been far too hot here to do anything but sit around and drink heaps of water. Take care where ever you are.

59 Comments
  1. The biggest problem is that once salinity occurs it is irreversible. Great photos though.

    December 20, 2015
    • Apparently it isn’t, I’ve heard they can stop it and reverse it, but it means years of hard work, they have to plant special plants and slowly put the trees back, but it all has to be done in stages. So someone up there was telling me, but it costs lots of money, and no one has that. Or maybe it is how to stop it spreading, I know I heard that replanting was the key. Thanks Carol.

      December 20, 2015
      • Now that you say that I remember when we were at Wave Rock in WA last year we walked around a massive salt pan that was once a fresh water river. There is work going on to rehabilitate the river but we were told it would take decades to make progress and they were working on one small section at a time.

        December 20, 2015
      • Yes, apparently they can do it in stages, they start with one type of plant, and they slowly over time introduce others until trees will live in the soil again. I’ve heard it is quite a process. An expensive one too.

        December 20, 2015
  2. Excellent, as always, Leanne! Have a wonderful week ahead! Merry Christmas! πŸ™‚

    December 20, 2015
    • Thank you Fabio. Merry Christmas to you too πŸ™‚

      December 20, 2015
      • Thanks so much, Leanne! You, your husband, and the girls have a wonderful 2016! πŸ™‚

        December 20, 2015
      • Thank you and same to you.

        December 20, 2015
  3. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez #

    It’s scary that it could spread to other areas. I wonder if reintroducing native plants with longer roots would affect the area. Whatever is done, I believe it would be worth it, no matter the cost. It’s such a beautiful land – perhaps environmentalists could pool resources to attack the problem.

    Thank you for posting about this, Leanne. I often wondered about the salt there. Your pictures are beautiful.

    December 20, 2015
    • It isn’t that it could Jackie, I think the reality is that it is. I think reintroducing species will help, definitely help stop it from getting bigger. I think it would be worth it as well, how could it not. I like that idea, and I think it is happening a lot, they have been working on the problem for about 50 years I think.
      You’re welcome and thank you.

      December 20, 2015
  4. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez #

    Reblogged this on The Artistic Spider's Web and commented:
    Weekend Wanderings: Salt around Swan Hill
    written by Leanne Cole

    December 20, 2015
  5. your photos are beautiful Leanne, the post very informative. It is a bit of a worry, a scary thought – that we can end up with more and more of the land like this. Hopefully, people can see the long term costs of doing nothing is not the best solution.

    December 20, 2015
    • Thank you Debi. Yes, I think so too, definitely a worry. We can hope so, though I think the problem is that we have a government that doesn’t believe in climate change, so they don’t want to put money into it. Sad really.

      December 20, 2015
      • perhaps, they need to re-articulate the word so they can process it. πŸ™‚

        December 21, 2015
      • Yes, I think so too, they are becoming the biggest obstacle to finding solutions. πŸ™‚

        December 21, 2015
  6. A fantastic collection of images Leanne really capturing the severity of this problem. When I studied year 12 geography way back in 1968 we used the salinity issues around Swan Hill and Sea lake as examples of farming practice destroying the environment. All these years later and the lessons have not been seriously addressed. I hope you are not currently up there, the heat in Melbourne for the last couple of days has been bad but up there its been terrible for many days.

    December 20, 2015
    • Thank you Denis. Wow, interesting that they were teaching about it back then, I wonder if anything has changed, besides it getting bigger.I don’t think so, the problem is getting worse. No, I’m back in Melbourne, I took these over a week ago. My mum is up there, but her house is well air conditioned.

      December 20, 2015
  7. What a devastating-looking landscape that you portrayed visually. I’ve heard from other Australian natives that the heat is unbearable. Keep cool!

    December 20, 2015
    • Thanks Olga. It is, but I guess we are used to it.

      December 20, 2015
  8. Fantastic place and photos. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Leanne.

    December 20, 2015
    • Thanks Cattan, and Merry Christmas to you and yours too.

      December 20, 2015
  9. It is a big problem and thanks for bringing this op Leanne. Not pretty pictures but this is where photograohy can highlight environmental degradation and hopefully prevent mistakes being made in the future. One can hope anyway. Thanks πŸ™‚

    December 20, 2015
    • No problem Andy, I think it is good to do that, one of the things that photography is great for. Yes, one can only hope, thanks Andy. πŸ™‚

      December 20, 2015
  10. Such harsh looking country. Great explanation about salinity.

    December 20, 2015
    • It is, especially at this time of the year. You’re welcome Chris.

      December 20, 2015
  11. Desertification is a worldwide problem.

    December 20, 2015
    • I don’t think this is quite what is happening here, it isn’t turning into a desert, there is too much water there, it is the salt rising to the surface that is the problem, though desertification is happening in many parts and our deserts are getting bigger every year.

      December 20, 2015
  12. Great to show this issue Leanne – wow it must have been hot up there. I did my Masters on this problem years ago (about the problem in NE Vic) – it is tragic that it is a problem which is well understood but action has been so poor to minimise its impact.

    December 20, 2015
    • It was really hot one day I was there, but the day we explored these it wasn’t too bad. I think the problem is money, until money is put into the problem it won’t get solved. The farmers are having enough trouble existing without putting money they don’t have to fix it, so it stays and gets worse. Hopefully one day they can do something.

      December 20, 2015
      • Absolutely – Landcare was quite new when I started my Masters so lots of farmers groups were able to get together to tackle the problem. It’s definitely something that we should all be aware of.

        December 20, 2015
      • The farmers have certainly changed the way they farm, they don’t plough the paddocks like they used to, they do direct sowing and that sort of thing, but they aren’t doing enough to stop the salt.

        December 20, 2015
  13. Sad state it’s in, I hope the government does something more with the land

    December 20, 2015
    • I think many are hoping the same Athena.

      December 21, 2015
  14. Sometimes it is the stark simplicity of a photograph that makes it outstanding………..lovely shots.

    December 20, 2015
  15. Great photos – and with purpose. Photojournalism in action.

    December 20, 2015
    • Thank you, I hadn’t thought of it like that, but I guess it is.

      December 21, 2015
  16. It’s time we stopped destroying our planet.

    December 20, 2015
    • I couldn’t agree more Gypsy, makes me so angry to see what we are doing.

      December 21, 2015
  17. I think these are good photos due to how unsettling and disturbing the area in them is.

    It’s quite tragic.

    December 20, 2015
    • It is tragic and thank you, it is unsettling.

      December 21, 2015
  18. Hey Leanne, this is a very good article. The environmentalists among your readers will love it. Good looking out for the planet.

    Peace and love

    December 20, 2015
    • Thank you Noel, I do care what happens and want to see things like this stop and a lot of other things.

      December 21, 2015
  19. Stunning photos Leanne.
    Keep hydrated – and hope it cools down a little soon.

    December 20, 2015
    • Thank you Colline, thankfully a cool change has relieved us somewhat.

      December 21, 2015
  20. Thank you, Leanne, for a most informative post on salinity! I did not know that the salt comes to the surface with the groundwater. I saw some of these fine photos on Flickr and wondered as to why the land surface was encrusted in salt. Now I know. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    December 21, 2015
    • You’re welcome Peter. I didn’t know either until recently. I had heard that a lot of Australia had originally been under the ocean, but wasn’t sure it was true, and apparently it is. It is quite a problem. It makes for dramatic photos, but I think I would prefer something else to photograph. Thanks Peter and Merry Christmas to you too.

      December 21, 2015
  21. Every time we mess around with the ecosystem, it goes horribly awry. How come we never seem to learn?

    December 21, 2015
    • I know, mother earth knows how to bite us back. It is all the animals that are suffering now that I feel sorry for, the polar bear in the north and the penguins in the south. We must stop thinking this planet is here for us to exploit.

      December 21, 2015
  22. This looks like an interesting place. I have been off Monochrome Madness this month, but should be back in Jan

    December 22, 2015
    • It is interesting, though not in the usual ways. That sounds great Rajiv, I look forward to seeing what you enter. Thank you.

      December 23, 2015
      • Thanks. And, a Happy New Year to you. What is the theme for the next month?

        December 27, 2015
      • I don’t know yet, I’m thinking of not doing any themes for Jan and starting in Feb.

        December 28, 2015
      • Oh cool…. Then, I don’t have to rack my brains this month!

        December 29, 2015
      • No, take it easy, good time to do it. LOL

        December 29, 2015
  23. Wow! What fabulous scenery!

    December 23, 2015
    • It is like that, sad how it came to be, thanks.

      December 23, 2015
  24. Over and over we seem to create problems around our planet! Thanks for drawing attention to this, Leanne. It’s sad that the cost of repair seems prohibitive.

    December 30, 2015
    • We do seem to do that, and we never seem to learn. You’re welcome Jo. I hope something can be done.

      December 31, 2015

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