Conserving soil moisture, does stubble or a fallow help on a red loam?

CC BY 4.0

Research organisaton
Funding source

Trial details

Researcher(s) Yvette Oliver (CSIRO) and Nadine Hollamby (Liebe Group)
Year(s) 2012
Contributor Liebe Group
Trial location(s) Site 3, East Wubin, WA
Conserving soil moisture, does stubble or a fallow help on a red loam? locations

To determine if various farm management techniques improve the storage of out-of-season rainfall and whether this leads to improvements in crop growth and/or yield.

Key messages
  • Overall imposing a fallow allowed for a small amount of extra water to be stored in the soil and a small amount of extra nitrogen. As a result there was a small yield gain of 0.2 t/ha in 2012. 
  • In this trial the fallow treatment was planted then sprayed out in August to replicate what is known as an ‘opportunistic’ fallow compared to a ‘strategic’ fallow where no crop is planted for 18 months. 18 month fallows would have different results to the ones reported here.
  • Other benefits of fallow that were not recorded in this trial but could have contributed to the yield gain are improved weed control, disease breaks and opportunity for early sowing. 
Lead research organisation N/A
Host research organisation N/A
Trial funding source GRDC LIE00006
Related program N/A

GRDC for funding the trial and Keith Carter & Co for hosting the trial.

Other trial partners Not specified
Download the trial report to view additional trial information


Crop type Barley
Treatment type(s)
  • Stubble: Management
Trial type Demonstration
Trial design Unreplicated

East Wubin 2012

Sow rate or Target density 44
Sow date 5 May 2012
Harvest date Not specified
Plot size 15m x 300m
Plot replication Not specified
Paddock history 2009 field peas, 2010 wheat, 2011 wheat

5/5/12: 70 kg/ha Agstar Extra, 65 L/ha Flexi-N banded


15/2/12: 1.2 L/ha Roundup, 0.5 L/ha Ester 800, 0.2 L/ha Garlon, 0.03 L/ha Atrazine

7/5/12: 1.8 L/ha Trifluralin, 150 g/ha Metribuzin, 0.5 L/ha Sprayseed

3/7/12: 0.6 L/ha Intervix

Download the trial report to view additional method/treatment information

Download results

Trial results Table 1

# Treatment 1
Hectolitre weight (kg/hL) Grain yield (t/ha) Protein (%) Nearest neighbour control (%)
1 Continous crop with standing stubble 63 2 12.7 100
2 Continous crop with standing stubble 65 1.9 12.8 100
3 Fallow 67 2.1 12.6 109
4 Flattened stubble 65 2 13 104
5 Old fallow 65 2.1 13.5 105

Grain yield t/ha


Hectolitre weight kg/hL


Nearest neighbour control %


Protein %

Observed trial site soil information
Trial site soil testing
Site Depth Type pH EC P K N A OC CAT
Site 3, East Wubin, WA 0 - 10cm Red loamy duplex 4.80
Site 3, East Wubin, WA 10 - 30cm Red loamy duplex
Soil conditions
Trial site Soil texture
Site 3, East Wubin, WA Red loamy duplex
Derived trial site soil information
Australian Soil Classification Source: ASRIS
Trial site Soil order
Site 3, East Wubin, WA Kandosol
Soil Moisture Source: BOM/ANU
Average amount of water stored in the soil profile during the year, estimated by the OzWALD model-data fusion system.
Year Site 3, East Wubin WA
2012 327.5mm
2011 307.6mm
2010 278.1mm
2009 316.2mm
2008 350.2mm
2007 294.6mm
2006 313.4mm
2005 277.6mm
2004 276.5mm
2003 312.2mm
2002 255.5mm
2001 291.2mm
2000 403.3mm
National soil grid Source: CSIRO/TERN
NOTE: National Soil Grid data is aggregated information for background information on the wider area
Actual soil values can vary significantly in a small area and the trial soil tests are the most relevant data where available

Soil properties



Site 3, East Wubin WA 2012

Observed climate information

Rainfall trial gsr (mm) 126mm

Derived climate information

Site 3, East Wubin WA


Some data on this site is sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology

SILO weather estimates sourced from
Jeffrey, S.J., Carter, J.O., Moodie, K.B. and Beswick, A.R. (2001). Using spatial interpolation to construct a comprehensive archive of Australian climate data , Environmental Modelling and Software, Vol 16/4, pp 309-330. DOI: 10.1016/S1364-8152(01)00008-1.