Tracing the amount of crop nitrogen coming from the previous wheat stubble


Research organisaton
Funding source

Trial details

Researcher(s) Claire Browne (BCG)
Vadakattu Gupta (CSIRO)
Therese McBeath (CSIRO)
Year(s) 2015
Contributor Birchip Cropping Group
Trial location(s) Site 4, Horsham, VIC
Further information View external link
Tracing the amount of crop nitrogen coming from the previous wheat stubble locations

To ascertain the amount and availability of N under varying stubble management practices and soil environments.

Key messages
  • Only 31 per cent of the applied urea nitrogen (N) was taken up by the wheat crop in 2014. This low fertiliser use efficiency may be partly related to the season; unused N in the soil can benefit the following crop.
  • In a decile 1 season, different stubble retention practices had no effect on microbial biomass and N supply potential (avg. 58kg N/ha).
  • Labelling a wheat crop with 15N allows researchers to quantify the fertiliser use efficiency and trace the N from stubble to the subsequent crop.
Lead research organisation N/A
Host research organisation N/A
Trial funding source GRDC BWD00024,CSP00186
Related program Maintaining profitable farming systems with retained stubble

This research was funded by the GRDC as part of the Maintaining profitable farming systems in retained stubble project– Component 1 project (CSP00186) and BWD00024. Thanks to Bill Davoren, Paul Adkins, Stasia Kroker, Steve Szarvis, Drew Ernakovich CSIRO for the provision of technical assistance.

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


Crop type Wheat
Treatment type(s)
  • Crop: Rotation
  • Fertiliser: Method
Trial type Experimental
Trial design Unknown

Horsham 2015

Sow rate or Target density 100 plants/m²
Sowing machinery

Knife points, press wheels, 30cm row spacing

Sow date 2 June 2015 2 June 2015
Harvest date 16 November 2015 16 November 2015
Plot size Not specified
Plot replication Not specified

MAP @ 46kg/ha plus Granulock Supreme Z @ 34kg/ha  (these rates were to balance nutrients).


Weeds were controlled to best management practice.


Pests were controlled to best management practice.


Diseases were controlled to best management practice.

Download the trial report to view additional method/treatment information

Download results

Trial results Table 1

# Treatment 1
Grain yield (t/ha) Nitrogen uptake (kg N/ha) C:N stubble ((ratio)) Harvest index (value) Stubble yield (t/ha) Stubble nitrogen uptake (kg N/ha) Fertiliser nitrogen uptake (%)
1 Karoonda 2.51 66 95 0.41 3.31 16 35
2 Horsham 2.19 97 56 0.32 4.7 38 31
3 Temora 3.29 142 57 0.28 8.38 55 40

Grain yield t/ha


C:N stubble (ratio)


Fertiliser nitrogen uptake %


Harvest index value


Nitrogen uptake kg N/ha


Stubble nitrogen uptake kg N/ha


Stubble yield t/ha

Observed trial site soil information
Trial site soil testing
Site Depth Type pH EC P K N A OC CAT
Site 4, Horsham, VIC 0 - 10cm heavy clay 6.90 46.00 1.10
Site 4, Horsham, VIC 0 - 70cm Heavy clay 125.00
Soil conditions
Trial site Soil texture
Site 4, Horsham, VIC Heavy clay (black)
Derived trial site soil information
Australian Soil Classification Source: ASRIS
Trial site Soil order
Site 4, Horsham, VIC Vertosol
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 4, Horsham VIC
2015 676.8mm
2014 688.0mm
2013 702.3mm
2012 704.1mm
2011 724.3mm
2010 731.0mm
2009 712.9mm
2008 694.6mm
2007 699.2mm
2006 680.2mm
2005 703.4mm
2004 696.3mm
2003 705.2mm
2002 677.6mm
2001 701.0mm
2000 628.8mm
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 4, Horsham VIC 2015

Observed climate information

Rainfall trial total (mm) 228mm
Rainfall trial gsr (mm) 125mm

Derived climate information

Site 4, Horsham VIC

NOTE: Exact trial site locality unknown - Climate data may not be accurate

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: 16-07-2019 14:21pm AEST