Managing nutrition on sandy soils - nitrogen timing x rate


Research organisatons
Funding sources

Trial details

Researcher(s) Therese McBeath, Rick Llewellyn, Bill Davoren, Willie Shoobridge (CSIRO), Mick Brady and Michael Moodie (MSF)
Year(s) 2016
Contributor Mallee Sustainable Farming Inc.
Trial location(s) Site 5, Loxton, SA
Site 5, Ouyen, VIC
Managing nutrition on sandy soils - nitrogen timing x rate locations

Sandy soil types of the Northern Mallee often underperform despite good weed management and increased inputs of nitrogen and sulfur. There is still a yield gap that can be addressed, with anecdotal evidence of unused water commonly remaining in the soil at depths of approximately 60cm at harvest.
After several years of demonstrating the value to wheat production of increased nitrogen inputs on sands at Karoonda, it was time to explore nutrition packages at a broader set of Mallee sites.

Key messages

• The highest yield in 2016 at Loxton could be achieved with either 40 kg N/ha as urea or 20 kg N/ha as Zn-coat urea or Zn-enriched MAP.
• Compared to applying 20 kg N/ha as normal urea, using Zn-
coated urea (20 kg N/ha) or Zn-enriched MAP with urea (20 kg N /ha) increased yield by over 20%.
• This is the second consecutive season that Zn coated Urea at sowing (20kg N/ha) has significantly increase yield compared to normal Urea (20 kg N /ha).
• Applying foliar Zn has not increased yield at this site in 2015 or 2016.
• Nitrogen was a key driver of wheat productivity again, with 40 kg/ha N at sowing increasing yield by over 20% compared to 20 kg/ha N at sowing, but water use efficiency remained poor on this sandy soil.
• There was also no benefit in delaying N application at Ouyen, however very high rates (60-80 kg/N ha) using higher late application rates increased yield on the midslope.
• In 2016 there was a large difference in yield between the midslope (2.90 t/ha) and the nearby sand dune (0.86 t/ha) at Ouyen which could not be closed through the addition of N, S and Zn to the sand.

Lead research organisation Mallee Sustainable Farming Inc.
Host research organisation Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Trial funding source GRDC MSF00003
Trial funding source CSIRO
Related program N/A

We thank Bulla Burra (Loxton) and the Hastings family (Ouyen) for hosting the field sites. Thanks to Navneet Aggarwal for technical assistance. Thanks to Jeff Braun and Lou Flohr for discussions around trial design. Thanks to Colin Rivers and Ros Baird for preparing granular Zn fertilisers. This research is funded by GRDC and CSIRO Agriculture and Food (project MSF00003).

Other trial partners Ag Victoria
Download the trial report to view additional trial information


Crop type Wheat
Treatment type(s)
  • Fertiliser: Rate
  • Fertiliser: Timing
Trial type Experimental
Trial design Replicated

Loxton 2016

Sow date Not specified
Harvest date Not specified
Plot size Not specified
Plot replication Not specified
Fertiliser Not specified

Ouyen 2016

Sow date 16 May 2016
Harvest date Not specified
Plot size Not specified
Plot replication Not specified

All plots received 50 kg/ha of single super phosphate

The rate x timing trial also received a pre-sowing application of 33 kg/ha of potassium sulphate to eliminate K and S and foliar applications of Zn, Mn and Cu.

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 5, Loxton, SA Not specified
Site 5, Ouyen, VIC Not specified
Derived trial site soil information
Australian Soil Classification Source
Trial site Soil order
Site 5, Loxton, SA Vertosol
Site 5, Ouyen, VIC Calcarosol
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



Derived climate information

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

Site 5, Loxton VIC

Site 5, Ouyen VIC

Site 5, Loxton VIC


Site 5, 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.

Individual Trial Project data and information and OFT metadata are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The data and information accessed through OFT may also be subject to Terms of Use specified by the Trial Contributor,
in which case the Terms of Use of a Trial Contributor take precedence over other information provided on OFT.
Trial last modified: 06-08-2019 07:54am AEST