Stephanie Boyce (DAFWA) Stephen Davies (DAFWA) James Hagan (DAFWA)
West Midlands Group
To assess amelioration options for water repellent soil and to determine whether a one-way plough can be used to ameliorate non-wetting sand for much lower cost than mouldboard ploughing or rotary spading.
Average grain yield for the untreated control plots was 2.34 t/ha. Clay spreading and rotary spading gave the largest machine harvest grain yield responses of 400 kg/ha or more, mouldboard ploughing 270 kg/ha and one-way ploughing 180 kg/ha (Figure 1) compared to their nearest comparative control plots. Offset discs gave no yield response in 2013 but did have positive yield responses in previous seasons (Table 1).
Grain protein levels averaged 11.4% for the untreated controls, clay spreading had 0.5% more protein and mouldboard ploughing 0.2% than their neighbouring controls (data not shown).
Screenings for the majority of treatments averaged about 2.1%. Mouldboard ploughing was the only treatment to have significantly lower screenings of just 1.2% (data not shown).
Total above-ground shoot biomass and head number was assessed using plant cuts (Table 1). Shoot biomass on average was increased by 95% (+4.3 t/ha) by rotary spading, 57% (+2.7 t/ha) by clay spreading and 47% (+2.3 t/ha) by mouldboard ploughing compared to the untreated controls. Head numbers on average were increased by 32% (78 heads) by spading, 22% (58 heads) by mouldboard ploughing and 17% (43 heads) by claying compared to the untreated controls.
Observations made earlier in the season indicated that emergence of many plants in the untreated control areas was delayed and had fewer tillers than the earlier emerging plants in the many of the treated areas.
The whole plant cut transects were taken across different soil types, rotary spading gave the best results on the poor pale deep sand at this site while mouldboard ploughing performed best on the better yellow sand (Transect 3).
The net 3-year benefit and return on investment (ROI) has been determined for the first 3-years of the trial (Table 2). Estimated costs for the amelioration treatments are based on owner-operated and contract rates. Benefits associated with some of the treatments such as weed control for the mouldboard plough and reduced wind erosion for the claying treatment have not been included.
The one-way ploughing treatment was the most affected by wind erosion in 2011, resulting in a loss in grain yield and income which has substantially reduced the net benefit and the return on investment for this treatment although the subsequent years have been profitable (Table 2). Of the other treatments rotary spading and mouldboard ploughing had the highest net benefit, driven largely by the large lupin yield increases measured in 2012. Claying also had impressive yield gains and substantial increases in income (Table 2) but the high cost of this treatment reduced the 3-year net benefit and return on investment relative to the deep cultivation treatments. Given that claying can show benefits for decades net benefit and ROI for this treatment should continue to improve over time and it still only took 2 years to cover the cost of the treatment. Offset discs had grain yield benefits for the first 2 years but showed no response in 2013 suggesting that the benefits of the shallow cultivation may have dissipated.
Lead research organisation
Department of Agriculture and Food WA
Host research organisation
West Midlands Group
Trial funding source
Delivering agronomic strategies for water repellent soils in WA
Particular thanks to Colin ‘Ferret’ McAlpine for establishing the trial with the assistance of David Hayes and Craig White. Research funded by DAFWA & GRDC through the “Delivering agronomic strategies for water repellent soils in WA – DAW00204” project and by the West Midlands Group.
Trial source data and summary not available Check the trial report PDF for trial results.
Badgingarra WA 2013
Observed climate information
Rainfall trial gsr (mm)
Derived climate information
NOTE: Exact trial site locality unknown - Climate data may not be accurate
SILO weather estimates sourced from https://www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au/silo/
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.
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