Stubble management to improve crop yield


Research organisaton
Funding sources

Trial details

Researcher(s) Chris Korte, Mick Brady, Chris Davies amd Dave Monks (DEDJTR)
Year(s) 2014
Contributor Mallee Sustainable Farming Inc.
Trial location(s) Site 7, Ouyen, VIC
Stubble management to improve crop yield locations

Over recent seasons adoption of stubble retention has plateaued in the Mallee and some growers are reducing the area of stubble retained until the next growing season. An experiment was undertaken to identify potential improvements in stubble management so this trend could be reversed. The experiment examined how different amounts and types of stubble impact on subsequent water availability and crop yield.

Key messages
  • For different 2013 treatments, the amount of stubble ranged from 2.4 to 4.0 t DM/ha at harvest and from 1.6 to 3.0 t DM/ha at the subsequent sowing. The only statistically significant effect of 2013 treatments on 2014 pre sowing stubble was a difference between wheat and vetch stubble, 2.7 t DM/ha and 2.0 t DM/ha, respectively, reflecting faster breakdown of vetch than wheat stubble.
  • Despite significant differences in the amount and types of stubble generated in 2013, and remaining at sowing in 2014, there was no statistically significant effect of 2013 treatments on 2014 soil moisture at sowing or 2014 crop yields.
  • There were significant differences between crop types in 2014. Significantly more wheat plants established than canola (49 and 15 plants/m2 respectively) and wheat had a significantly higher grain yield than canola (1.2 and 0.3 t/ha respectively). Both wheat and canola were affected by the dry spring and associated frosts, plus canola had poor establishment.
  • Research conducted previously at Walpeup in the 1980s found that maintaining 2 t/ha stubble increased the amount of water stored in the soil at sowing, at depth 0–140 cm, by 16 mm in 1 year of 3. This increase in soil water availability was not reflected in increased crop yield.
  • The recent experiment at Ouyen, together with the previous research at Walpeup, indicate that Mallee crop yields are unlikely to be increased by retaining higher levels of stubble, although there can be benefits of reduced soil erosion.
Lead research organisation N/A
Host research organisation N/A
Trial funding source GRDC MSF00003
Trial funding source Mallee CMA
Related program Maintaining profitable farming systems with retained stubble

Funding for the experiment was provided by GRDC and DEDJTR as part of the GRDC project “Maintaining profitable farming systems with retained stubble in the Mallee”. Mr Dean and Jarrod Munro of Ouyen are acknowledged for providing the experimental site. Debra Partington is acknowledged for providing statistical analysis.

Other trial partners Mallee Sustainable Farming
Download the trial report to view additional trial information


Crop types Canola
Treatment type(s)
  • Fertiliser: Rate
  • Stubble: Height
Trial type Experimental
Trial design Randomised,Replicated,Blocked

Ouyen 2014 Canola

Sow date Not specified
Harvest date Not specified
Plot size 4.8m x 15m
Plot replication 5

Ouyen 2014 Wheat

Sow date Not specified
Harvest date Not specified
Plot size Not specified
Plot replication Not specified
Download the trial report to view additional method/treatment information
Trial source data and summary not available
Check the trial report PDF for trial results.
Observed trial site soil information
Trial site soil testing
Not specified
Soil conditions
Trial site Soil texture
Site 7, Ouyen, VIC Not specified
Derived trial site soil information
Australian Soil Classification Source
Trial site Soil order
Site 7, Ouyen, VIC Tenosol
National soil grid Source
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 7, Ouyen VIC 2014

Observed climate information

Rainfall trial gsr (mm) 147.8mm

Derived climate information

Site 7, Ouyen VIC


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.

Trial last modified: 06-08-2019 07:54am AEST