The value of soil water at seeding

CC BY 4.0

Research organisatons

Trial details

Researcher(s) Phil Ward, Kelley Whisson and Steve Milroy (CSIRO)
Year(s) 2013
Contributor Liebe Group
Trial location(s) Site 1, West Wubin, WA
The value of soil water at seeding locations

To measure the role of water stored in the soil at sowing in affecting wheat yield.

Key messages
  • The value of stored soil moisture at seeding in the Northern Agricultural Region of WA is not well understood.
  • In trials so far, value of stored soil moisture at seeding has varied depending on season and soil type.
  • In 2013, additional water at seeding increased yield by about 500 kg/ha at the sand site, and by 1000-2000 t/ha at the loam site.
  • Trials such as these will help to unravel the value of stored soil moisture so that it can better be used as a predictor of crop performance and nutritional requirements.
  • Available water at sowing is a poor predictor of expected yield and cannot be used as a simple tool for adjusting input levels. We need to develop an ability to understand when and why the water will be of benefit. 
Lead research organisation Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Host research organisation N/A
Related program N/A

Thanks to Jeff Pearse and family for accommodating the trials on their property and for their help with seeding the trials. Thanks also to Clare Johnston, Liebe Group, for helping to arrange the trial site.

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


Crop type Wheat
Treatment type(s)
  • Irrigation: Rate
  • Soil: Type
Trial type Experimental
Trial design Replicated

West Wubin 2013

Sow rate or Target density 70kg/ha
Sow date Not specified
Harvest date Not specified
Plot size 4m x 4m
Plot replication 4
Paddock history 2010 Canola, 2011 Wheat, 2012 Lupins

28/5/13 - 80kg/ha Macro Pro Extra,

28/6/13 - 80kg Urea


28/05/13: 2 L/ha Treflan, 1.2 L/ha Roundup Attack, 2% Ammonium Sulphate

28./6/13: 1 L/ha Jaguar, 0.5 L/ha LVE-MCPA

Download the trial report to view additional method/treatment information

Download results

Trial results Table 1

@T1: 2011 @T2: 2012
# Treatment 1
Treatment 2
Grain yield (t/ha) Grain yield (t/ha) Grain yield (t/ha)
1 40 mm (2011) or 30 mm (2012, 13) Loam Site 4 2
1 40 mm (2011) or 30 mm (2012, 13) Sand Site 4 3.9 3.3
2 80 mm (2011) or 60 mm (2012, 13) Loam Site 5 2
2 80 mm (2011) or 60 mm (2012, 13) Sand Site 3.8 3.7 3.4
2 No extra water Loam Site 2.8 2.1
3 No extra water Sand Site 3.4 3.9 2.1

Grain yield t/ha

Observed trial site soil information
Trial site soil testing
Site Depth Type pH EC P K N A OC CAT
Site 1, West Wubin, WA 0 - 10cm Sandy loam 5.30 0.11
Site 1, West Wubin, WA 10 - 30cm Sandy loam 4.60
Soil conditions
Trial site Soil texture
Site 1, West Wubin, WA Sandy loam
Derived trial site soil information
Australian Soil Classification Source: ASRIS
Trial site Soil order
Site 1, West 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 1, West Wubin WA
2013 148.3mm
2012 160.8mm
2011 157.3mm
2010 118.6mm
2009 131.6mm
2008 163.5mm
2007 146.1mm
2006 147.6mm
2005 138.8mm
2004 130.0mm
2003 127.4mm
2002 82.4mm
2001 91.0mm
2000 170.5mm
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 1, West Wubin WA 2013

Observed climate information

Rainfall trial gsr (mm) 228mm

Derived climate information

Site 1, West 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.