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Salinity is the presence of salt in the land surfaces in soil or rock or dissolved in water in our rivers or groundwater Salt naturally occurs in many parts of Australias Landscape It has been in the soil since well before farming began Most of the salt is sodium chloride NaCl which is table salt however there are also varying amounts of other salts present such as sodium bicarbonate NaHSO4 baking soda sodium sulphate Na2SO4 soda ash magnesium sulphate MgSO4 Epsom salts and calcium sulphate CaSO4 gypsum The origins of these salts can be linked to oPrehistoric marine or riverine sediments2 oThe weathering or breakdown of the rocks that make up local soils2 oSalts carried inland from costal areas by strong winds2 Over time the European style farming method has significantly altered the landscape and upset the natural water balance2 In many of these landscapes the water table is rising This is due to the presence of more groundwater caused by the extra rainwater seeping down from the surface as a result of the clearing of native vegetation Dryland salinity occurs when native vegetation is cleared and replaced with crops and pastures that have shallower roots and require less water Before clearing the native vegetation would use most of the water from rainfall and therefore only a small amount would enter the groundwater system however crops and pastures use significantly less water than native plants so more water seeps into the groundwater causing the water table to rise1 Ground water is saline as it carries dissolved salts from the soil and bedrock material that it travels through1 Over time the saline ground water rises to near the surface in low-lying areas3 Salt enters the plant root zone once ground water comes within 2 meters of the soils surface Waterlogging water saturation of the root zone can also occur with the rising watertable and this also has harsh consequences on plants The extent of damage
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