Improving crop establishment in a non-wetting sand with soil wetting agents


Research organisatons
Funding source

Trial details

Researcher(s) Jack Desbiolles (University of SA), Lynne Macdonald (CSIRO), David Davenport (Rural Solutions SA), Mel Fraser (Rural Solutions SA), Nigel Wilhelm (SARDI), Brett Masters (Rural Solutions SA)
Year(s) 2018
Contributor SARDI Minnipa Agricultural Centre
Trial location(s) Site 2, Murlong, SA
Related trials
Improving crop establishment in a non-wetting sand with soil wetting agents locations

To investigate water repellence mitigation options at seeding. The trial aims to identify the driving chemistries (surfactants vs humectants) and application techniques (furrow surface, vs seed zone) that are better able to lift crop responses under local sowing conditions. This article reports on the Year 1 data, with more work being planned for the 2019-20 seasons.

Key messages
  • The impact of 13 different soil wetter treatments ranged from none to more than a doubling of wheat establishment.
  • Grain yield benefits ranged from zero to 21% (or 0.22 t/ha).
  • While higher grain yield generally correlated with better crop establishment, some treatments with low crop establishment were able to generate substantial yield responses, suggesting specific chemistries may promote later season effects.
  • Combinations of some soil wetters interacted positively to maximize grain yield response.
Lead research organisation Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Host research organisation SARDI Minnipa Agricultural Centre
Trial funding source GRDC CSP00203
Related program Sandy soils in low and medium rainfall areas

Funding from the GRDC (CSP00203), technical assistance from Dean Thiele (UniSA) and Ian Richter (SARDI) with trial implementation and data sampling, the collaboration and support from the soil wetter suppliers listed in Table 1 are all gratefully acknowledged. Thank you also to Syngenta Australia, Nufarm/CropCare, Incitec Pivot Fertilisers and Wengfu Fertilisers for some in-kind support.


Other trial partners University of South Australia, the SA state government through Primary Industries and Regions SA, Mallee Sustainable Farming Inc. and AgGrow Agronomy.
Download the trial report to view additional trial information


Crop type Wheat
Treatment type(s)
  • Soil amelioration: Type
  • Soil amelioration: Rate
  • Soil amelioration: Application
  • Soil amelioration: Timing
Trial type Experimental
Trial design Replicated

Murlong 2018

Sow rate or Target density Wheat CL Razor wheat sown at 63.2 kg/ha targeting 155 plants/m2 at 80% establishment, Targeted seeding depth: 30-35 ±5 mm
Sowing machinery

Seeding system: knife point double shoot combined with twin seeding discs with press wheels (row spacing = 0.28 m), sowing speed: 5 km/h, sowing date: 21-23 June 2018

Sow date 22 June 2018
Harvest date 3 December 2018
Plot size 25m x 1.68m
Plot replication 4
  • Fertiliser: 20 N+4.3 S as 2:1 Urea:SoA mix at 54 kg/ha deep banded at full furrow depth (100 mm), and 6 N+11P+2S+0.5Zn as Granulock Z at 50 kg/ha shallow banded 20 mm below seeding depth
  • Liquids: Fungicides applied at furrow depth: Uniform 400 ml/ha and Intake HiLoad Gold 250 ml/ha applied in 80 L/ha
  • Trace elements: Zn @ 2 L, Cu @ 1 L and Mn @ 3 L/ha applied as a foliar spray at late tillering

Weed control: Agrityne 750 @ 1.5 L/ha at late tillering

Soil amelioration
  • Soil wetter treatments: applied in 100 L/ha volume with foam suppressant at 0.05%
Seed treatment Rancona C + Imidacloprid 600.
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 2, Murlong, SA Deep sand over clay sand
Derived trial site soil information
Australian Soil Classification Source
Trial site Soil order
Site 2, Murlong, SA Anthroposol
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



Site 2, Murlong SA 2018

Observed climate information

Rainfall avg ann (mm) 332mm
Rainfall avg gsr (mm) 249mm
Rainfall trial total (mm) 220mm
Rainfall trial gsr (mm) 167mm

Derived climate information

Site 2, Murlong 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.

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Trial last modified: 08-10-2019 12:09pm AEST