The roles of plant-based systems and plant-based research and development for management of dryland salinity in southern Australia vary over a range of biophysical and socio-economic conditions, and differ according to the resources at risk ( protection of water resources, biodiversity, infrastructure, dispersed assets such as agricultural land, and salt-affected land). Recommended responses are sensitive to a range of biophysical and socio-economic conditions. Extension and incentives to promote currently available perennials or salt-tolerant plants are only appropriate as the main policy response in a minority of cases. Regulation or permits to limit planting of perennials can be justified in certain areas of high-water-yielding catchments. For the majority of agricultural land that is at risk or is contributing to dryland salinity, the most logical policy response is to invest in development to improve salinity management technologies, including research and development into new plant-based systems. Situations where plant-based R&D for profitable farming systems is the best option include: ( i) to reduce salinity impacts on water resources where groundwater systems are responsive and the dependence on fresh runoff for consumptive use is low; (ii) to protect infrastructure and biodiversity where there is relatively high responsiveness of groundwater and the urgency of response is low; ( iii) to protect dispersed assets ( e. g. agricultural land, most remnant vegetation on farms, flood risk mitigation) where profitable perennial plant options are lacking; and (iv) for land that is already salt affected.