Dryland salinity is an insidious problem which progressively degrades arable or marginally productive farming land often to the point that such land becomes incapable of sustaining agriculture in the long term. In Australia, this problem has been exacerbated by the removal of millions of trees to make way for cultivation. This paper explains how founding research focusing on identification of reference modes of behaviour for dry land salinity has been used to define the requirements for a system dynamics model designed for strategic analysis and to inform choices for strategic management of dryland salinity in Australia’s Murray-Darling basin. The system dynamics model constructed on the basis of the previously identified reference modes is described. Its behaviour is analysed and its veracity as an explanation of the causes of dryland salinity, and possible remediation of this widespread and worsening problem, are critically examined.