Morawa trials - water use efficiency of cropping systems

2008 - 2010

Research organisaton
Funding sources

Trial details

Researcher(s) Steve Milroy (CSIRO)
Year(s) 2008 - 2010
Contributor North East Farming Futures
Trial location(s) , WA
Morawa trials - water use efficiency of cropping systems locations

To explore whether cropping strategies using higher inputs are more water use efficient than lower input systems and to what extent this affects profit.

Key messages
  • The trial at Morawa compared a canola-wheat sequence to a wheat-on-wheat sequence with either high or low input levels. Low input had lower fertiliser, lower seed density and cheaper herbicide options. We also incorporated a comparison of a very early wheat cultivar (Zippy) to a medium maturity cultivar (Wyalkatchem).
  • Water use by the crop was estimated from the sum of the in-season rainfall and the change in soil water between sowing and harvest. By estimating the amount of soil evaporation as one third of in-season rainfall, we determined the amount of water used by the plant as transpiration. The ratio of crop yield to transpiration is the transpiration efficiency of the crop which has a potential of around 20-22 mm/kg/ha.
  • The yield of Zippy was more stable than that of Wyalkatchem, but the earlier maturity resulted in a substantial yield penalty. Zippy yielded around 2 t/ha each year whereas Wyalkatchem responded more in better years. The yield penalty associated with the earlier maturing variety was not offset by the higher input level. Higher input actually increased the variability in annual gross margins.
  • So far Wyalkatchem has a substantially greater cumulative gross margin than Zippy and there is little difference between the high and low input strategies.
Lead research organisation North East Farming Futures
Host research organisation N/A
Trial funding source GRDC UB0003
Trial funding source CSIRO
Related program N/A
  • Thanks to Gary and Debbie Collins for hosting the trial and to the NEFF group for their collaboration. Thanks to Kelley Whisson for capable technical support.
  • Thanks to staff at Kalyx who were contracted to sow, maintained and harvest the trial.
  • This project is co-funded by GRDC and CSIRO.
  • Dr Steve Milroy Improving Crop Production and Quality Sub Program Leader, CSIRO Perth


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


Crop type Wheat
Treatment type(s)
  • Irrigation: Rate
Trial type Experimental
Trial design Randomised,Replicated,Blocked


Sow rate or Target density Not specified
Sow date Not specified
Harvest date Not specified
Plot size Not specified
Plot replication Not specified


Sow rate or Target density Not specified
Sow date Not specified
Harvest date Not specified
Plot size Not specified
Plot replication Not specified


Sow rate or Target density as per trial report
Sow date 14 June 2010
Harvest date Not specified
Plot size Not specified
Plot replication 4
Download the trial report to view additional method/treatment information

Download results

Trial results Table 1

# Variety
Grain yield (t/ha) Total water use (mm) Soil water depletion (mm) Rainfall (mm) Transpiration efficiency (kg/ha/mm)
1 Zippy high input 1.9 257.3 34.7 224.4 10.2
2 Wyalkatchem high input 4 278.8 56.2 224.4 18.7
3 Wyalkatchem low input 3.5 278.1 55.5 224.4 16.7

Grain yield t/ha


Rainfall mm


Soil water depletion mm


Total water use mm


Transpiration efficiency kg/ha/mm

Observed trial site soil information
Trial site soil testing
Not specified
Soil conditions
Trial site Soil texture
, WA Not specified
Derived trial site soil information
Australian Soil Classification Source: ASRIS
Trial site Soil order
, 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 WA
2010 259.5mm
2009 278.0mm
2008 276.1mm
2007 227.0mm
2006 282.9mm
2005 275.0mm
2004 237.1mm
2003 249.7mm
2002 234.5mm
2001 265.7mm
2000 298.6mm
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



Derived climate information

No observed climate data available for this trial.
Derived climate data is determined from trial site location and national weather sources.



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