Title

Techniques for revegetation of acid sulfate soil scalds in the coastal floodplains of New South Wales, Australia: ridging, mulching and liming in the absence of stock grazing

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Rosicky, MA, Sullivan, LA, Slavich, PG & Hughes, M 2006, ‘Techniques for revegetation of acid sulfate soil scalds in the coastal floodplains of New South Wales, Australia: ridging, mulching and liming in the absence of stock grazing’, Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture , vol. 46, no. 12, pp. 1589-1600.


The original publication is available at www.publish.csiro.au at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA05218

Abstract

Two revegetation field trials were undertaken on chronically bare acid sulfate soil scalds on grazing properties in the Hawkesbury and Macleay catchments of New South Wales, Australia. The aim was to test the effectiveness of various low cost and readily accessible techniques to encourage revegetation (via existing seedbank or surrounding vegetation) of the scalded sites. The trial at the more efficiently drained Hawkesbury site used a combined treatment of ridging (R), mulching (M) and liming (L) (i.e. R–M–L) compared with a control, within a fenced area. At the more waterlogged Macleay site, various elements of the combined treatment (i.e. R, M, R–M, R–L, R–M–L) were compared with a control, within a fenced area. Vegetation occurrence, biomass and species were tested, along with pertinent soil parameters (pH, salinity, soil moisture, soluble metals). Soil testing was undertaken at 2 depth levels to represent the seed germination zone (0–1 cm), and the potential root zone (1–10 cm). At the Hawkesbury site, the combined treatment (R–M–L) caused significantly greater vegetation occurrence and biomass, lower salinity, higher pH and increased soil moisture. At the Macleay site, results were more variable, but similar to the Hawkesbury trial as the site dried out. Mulching was the single most important treatment. All mulched sites had significantly more vegetation than the control, reaching 100% coverage in the R–M–L plots. Stock exclusion alone produced minimal results. Ridging alone was counterproductive. Liming without mulching caused proliferation of an insubstantial and transient vegetation species (Isolepis inundata). Most interesting was the different vegetation species encouraged by the different mulch treatments: treatment M was dominated by the sedge, Eleocharis acuta; treatment R–M was an even mix of Eleocharis acuta and native water-tolerant grasses (Paspalum distichum and Pseudoraphis paradoxa); treatment R–M–L was dominated by the aforementioned native grasses. These grasses are highly favoured for both economic (highly palatable to stock) and environmental (thick mulch cover, self seeding) objectives. The results demonstrate that revegetation of acid sulfate soil scalds is possible, and different treatments can influence vegetation species composition.