Break crop production in southern low rainfall environments


Research organisatons
Funding source

Trial details

Researcher(s) Sarah Day (SARDI)
Year(s) 2018
Contributor SARDI Minnipa Agricultural Centre
Trial location(s) Minnipa Agricultural Centre, SA
Break crop production in southern low rainfall environments locations

To identify the best break crop options for different climate, soil type and biotic stress situations within major cropping regions of the southern low rainfall zone.

Key messages
  • Field pea, vetch, faba bean and lentil had 3-125% higher biomass yield and 51-110% higher grain yield than chickpea and canola at Minnipa, 2018.
  • Current high demand and grain prices for faba bean meant they were the most profitable break crop species.
  • Low grain yield of canola (0.43 t/ha) and chickpea (0.39 t/ha) resulted in these crop species not being profitable as grain crops.
  • Field pea and vetch, in particular, have multiple alternative end-use options in dry seasonal conditions that can be utilised to recover crop input costs.
Lead research organisation South Australian Research and Development Institute
Host research organisation SARDI Minnipa Agricultural Centre
Trial funding source GRDC DAS00162-A
Related program N/A

This project builds on previous GRDC and SAGIT funded projects, including DAS00119 (profitable crop sequencing in the low rainfall areas of South Eastern Australia) and MS115 (adopting profitable crop sequences in the SA Mallee).Funding for this project is provided by GRDC (DAS00162-A) and their continued support is gratefully acknowledged. The continued assistance from SARDI New Variety Agronomy groups at Clare and Minnipa, in particular Brenton Spriggs and Sue Budarick, is gratefully acknowledged and appreciated. We would also like to acknowledge support from property owners and low rainfall farming system groups involved in this project.

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


Crop type Break crops
Treatment type(s)
  • Crop: Type
  • Variety: Type
Trial type Experimental
Trial design Randomised,Replicated,Blocked

Minnipa Agricultural Centre 2018

Sowing machinery

A break crop species-by-variety trial was conducted at Minnipa Agricultural Centre in 2018, to compare varieties of six break crop species. This trial was part of a wider program, with similar trials undertaken at four locations in 2017 across the southern low rainfall zone, and will be repeated again in 2019. The trials include three to six varieties (to represent major potential options for the low rainfall zone) of canola, lupin, field pea, vetch, lentil, chickpea, and faba bean. Lupin was not included at Minnipa, after consultation with local advisors as they are not suited to the environment. Varietal options included herbicide-tolerant varieties and those with potential for different end-uses. Measurements taken include site soil characteristics, soil moisture, grain yield, biomass yield and gross margin. Plot arrangement was in a split plot randomised design with three replicates, with break crop species assigned as the whole plot and variety as the sub plot. The use of

Sow date 21 June 2018
Harvest date 16 November 2018
Plot size 10m x 1.75m
Plot replication 3
Plot blocking Plot arrangement was in a split plot randomised design with three replicates, with break crop species assigned as the whole plot and variety as the sub plot. The use of this design ensures each break crop species receives appropriate management.
Plot randomisation Yes
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
Minnipa Agricultural Centre, SA Not specified
Derived trial site soil information
Australian Soil Classification Source: ASRIS
Trial site Soil order
Minnipa Agricultural Centre, SA Calcarosol
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 Minnipa Agricultural Centre SA
2018 508.3mm
2017 542.1mm
2016 507.1mm
2015 495.9mm
2014 541.0mm
2013 458.7mm
2012 506.5mm
2011 543.2mm
2010 532.9mm
2009 530.7mm
2008 437.3mm
2007 431.4mm
2006 461.6mm
2005 442.2mm
2004 442.3mm
2003 448.1mm
2002 448.1mm
2001 487.6mm
2000 461.5mm
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



Minnipa Agricultural Centre SA 2018

Observed climate information

Rainfall avg ann (mm) 325mm
Rainfall avg gsr (mm) 242mm
Rainfall trial total (mm) 269mm
Rainfall trial gsr (mm) 208mm

Derived climate information

Minnipa Agricultural Centre SA


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 report and links

2018 trial report

Trial last modified: 03-09-2019 14:36pm AEST