Our Land Use Vulnerabilities
Key vulnerabilities of land resources in the NAR have been identified:
Biosecurity safeguards Western Australia’s agriculture, economy, environment and human health from the risks of introduced pests, diseases and weeds. As well as preventing new animal and plant pests, and diseases and weeds from arriving, biosecurity aims to control those already present. Diseases and pests can not only impact human health and lifestyles but also damage agricultural and horticultural production, forestry and tourism and affect trade in international markets.
The choice of livestock or irrigated agriculture crop, together with land management practices, has a significant influence on the short and long term productivity of the land. Decisions must be made in response to properties of the soil and the likelihood of that soil and land type being susceptible to land degradation. Some of the issues faced in the NAR include soil acidity, wind erosion, water erosion, soil organic carbon, soil compaction, water repellency of soil, and nutrient (phosphorus) release. These can be exacerbated by certain land use practices. Visit the DAFWA website to find out how you can manage these issues.
Development of urban areas and infrastructure has the potential to impact land resources. Impacts include direct loss of vegetation as well as loss of topsoil, erosion, flooding, soil contamination, acid sulphate soils and remnant vegetation decline. Inappropriate development also has the potential to impact the landscape values of the region. The availability of basic raw materials also requires consideration.
Increasing cropping percentages and reliance on chemical methods of weed control has resulted in high selection pressure from repeated use of chemicals. It is becoming a problem with many weed/herbicide combinations – with annual ryegrass the most prone to developing resistance and wild radish an emerging problem. The NAR is regarded as having the worst herbicide resistant ryegrass problem in the world (Walsh and Newman, 2013). Herbicide resistance is worst on sandplain soils where there has been strong reliance on the lupin and wheat rotation for many years. Growers are now faced with the dilemma of re-introducing pasture and changing to less productive systems.
As the climate warms, many of the factors relating to land degradation are likely to be exacerbated due to an increased intensity of weather events including droughts and storms.