Saturday, 15 March 2008
the salted tongue
Samela Harris of the Adelaide Advertiser kindly wrote a story about my work and my book...but there's one supposition i do need to set straight (for those few of you who will see it)...and that's the inference that i use salt as a mordant. i do not and would not, Australia has an overwhelming salt problem in the land without me adding to it.
much of this country was once seabed and those ancient salts are being carried up with rising water tables in areas where irrigation has been carried to excess. the Barossa Valley; a wine district to the west of our farm famous for dark and brooding shiraz (among other good things) has about 15 years left, at a rough guess, before the entire place is poisoned by salt. how could this happen? foolishly simple, really. responsible winemakers (including Rockford, Turkey Flat and Henschke) grow their grapes without irrigation, making exquisite wines that thoroughly reflect the seasons (as they should!).
the big corporations, out for a quick buck, and with the power to influence governments, are making the most of the pipeline from the poisoned Murray River (constructed only a few years ago) and pouring water on vineyards to grow maximum tonnages. to add insult to injury, the already slightly salty water is first stored in open dams allowing evaporation at a rate of at very least 1 centimetre a day (thus concentrating the salt) before distribution on the vineyards. as the water trickles down into the earth, the water table (also already salty!) is raised.
there'll come a point at which the extra salty stuff meets the roots of what grows above and things will start to die. rapidly. the state of the big trees will be the first signal, but by the time they are visibly dying it will all be far too late.
and the sad thing is, not only will this all have been preventable, the exploiters will take the responsible people down the gurgler with them.