Break crops and crop rotations: effects on nitrogen, pasture yield, grain yield and profit

CC BY 4.0

Research organisaton

Trial details

Researcher(s) Paul Breust (FarmLink)
James Hunt (CSIRO)
Guangdi Li (CSIRO)
Richard Lowrie (CSIRO)
James Mwendwa (CWFS)
Mark Peoples (SARDI)
Antony Swan (SARDI)
Laura Watson (SARDI)
Nigel Wilhelm (SARDI)
Year(s) 2014
Contributor Central West Farming Systems
Trial location(s) Forbes, NSW
Break crops and crop rotations: effects on nitrogen, pasture yield, grain yield and profit locations

To challenge this notion, and to examine the impacts of break crops on the longer-term financial performance of following wheat crops.

Key messages
  • Crop sequence experimentation undertaken in Central West NSW in 2011 and 2012, has demonstrated that crop sequences which include a brassica or legume break crops can be as profitable as, and in many instances more profitable than, continuous wheat.
  • Growing pulses for hay was found to provide high quality feed as good as from cereals but hay from canola was less nutritious. However, canola hay provided an alternative option in cases where a possible crop failure is likely due to adverse weather.
  • Growing pulses for hay was found to be profitable across a range of season types, achieves excellent grass weed control and provides greater N inputs and higher carry-over of soil water than when the same crop is grown for grain.
Lead research organisation N/A
Host research organisation N/A
Related program N/A

This project is funded by GRDC in association with SARDI, CSIRO and CWFS farmers. I would like to
thank Ian Menz (District Agronomist, NSW DPI) and CWFS staff; John Small, Neil Williams and Tim Patton
for technical assistance. The support and collaboration of Peter Stuckey, David Watt, Derrick Davis and Tim
Fay is much appreciated.

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


Crop type Wheat
Treatment type(s)
  • Crop
  • Crop: Type
  • Variety
  • Variety: Type
Trial type Experimental
Trial design Replicated

Forbes 2014

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

Download results

Trial results Table 1

# Treatment 1
Grain yield (t/ha)
1 Lupins - Luxor 0.5
2 Chickpeas - Hat trick 1.1
3 Field peas - Twilight 1.5

Grain yield t/ha

Observed trial site soil information
Trial site soil testing
Not specified
Soil conditions
Trial site Soil texture
Forbes, NSW Not specified
Derived trial site soil information
Australian Soil Classification Source: ASRIS
Trial site Soil order
Forbes, NSW Sodosol
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 Forbes NSW
2014 438.2mm
2013 421.5mm
2012 442.1mm
2011 446.6mm
2010 459.7mm
2009 395.0mm
2008 369.1mm
2007 348.7mm
2006 383.6mm
2005 420.2mm
2004 400.0mm
2003 380.2mm
2002 419.8mm
2001 487.8mm
2000 471.2mm
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.

Forbes NSW

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: 25-04-2018 18:55pm AEST