Minimising yield variability to maximise the yield in cotton farming systems

The issue​

Nearby fields and areas within the same field often vary considerably in yield despite having the same management and weather conditions. While soil constraints and / or variability may explain some of the variation in yield, there is at present no easily - adoptable framework to readily assess the core factor(s) causing the variability.​


man sampling in cotton field

  • Identify the causal factors behind yield gaps in a range of locations ​
  • Develop a framework for growers, consultants and industry Regional Extension Officers (REOs) to systematically diagnose the factors, and asses their relative significance and contribution to yield variability.

What we are doing​

  • Paired field investigation-two fields on same farm or near by farm. Soil characteristics, yield and management data collected and analyzed for possible causes of yield differences​
  • Investigate effect of compaction in collaboration with CSIRO​
  • Long term trial data forms part of this investigation to understand the relative contribution of causal factors for yield differences. The current investigation within the long term trials are focused on​
  • Assessing residual benefits of maize rotation​
  • Assessing the simulation of hail damage on cotton yield​
  • Quantifying immobile micronutrient stratification in cotton soils​
  • Manipulating nutrient input timing and application methods on cotton yield​

Outputs and/or outcome​

  • Preliminary survey results suggest the yield variability is related to underlying soil constraints along with field management such as crop rotation​
  • Very low soil organic carbon status was observed in low yielding fields​
  • A decision support tree for growers, consultants and industry Regional Extension Officers (REOs) in collaboration with University of Sydney will enable systematic diagnosis of the factors, and assessment of relative significance and contribution to yield variability​

Aerial shot of paddocktwo adjacent plots on left yellowed crop

Partners (or collaborators)​

  • The University of Sydney
  • Cotton Research and Development Corporation
  • University of New England
  • Queensland Department of Agriculture & Fisheries