The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) acknowledges that lucerne has a key role in the fight against salinity. They are recommending that farmers plant more lucerne - particularly in irrigation salinity black spots. We are confident that irrigation farmers will come to recognise that large plantations of lucerne can be a very profitable enterprise when sold to Fodder King for harvesting. Many of these areas are unsuitable for traditional lucerne harvesting - but would be appropriate using Fodder King's system.
The long tap roots of the lucerne plants are the warriors in the fight against the horrible rising salt. These probes are very thirsty - and as they can grow to a length of 15 metres - it means that they can draw the salt-laden water deep down into the soil and away from where the salt does the awful damage. And thus lower the water table (incidentally, a lucerne plantation, with its densely planted growth, can lower the water table a great deal faster than a plantation of trees - which takes longer to develop because the trees are more widely spaced).
We have found that the MDBA staff are aware of Fodder King's pioneering work and have a favourable impression of the Company. That is gratifying.
The CSIRO Division of Land and Water has successfully developed a pilot project to harvest salt out of spent irrigation water (in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) not too far from our demonstration farm Hillview). The device, known as a biological concentrator, works on a principle which is almost the reverse of underground drip irrigation: salt is concentrated, collected and then removed. When scaled up, the filter project would provide an engineering solution to reduce salt outflow from the MIA back into the Murray Darling River system.
Enter Fodder King. A substantial reduction of salinity in the winter outflow of the MIA would be achieved by a salt filter project incorporating 1,500 hectares of lucerne (the favoured crop) for the first three stages of concentration. Should it be successful, there would be even more potential opportunities for Fodder King. The knowledge gained would have a universal application in reducing salt problems in any irrigation project in Australia. Or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world where there are salt problems. More lucerne - more need for Fodder King.
Both the CSIRO and Fodder King are interested in the development of a commercial scale demonstration project. And discussions to establish a formal basis on which to proceed have already commenced. It is looking promising.