Optimising crop performance
This project examined the benefits of using gypsum, perennial pasture species and waterlogging tolerant annual legumes to improve pasture and crop productivity on sodic soils subject to waterlogging over winter. The study showed that lucerne was effective at drying the sub soil and increasing the dry soil buffer to reduce the probability of waterlogging reducing crop yields.
Examining the soil profile
The application of gypsum increased the density of lucerne established but did not change lucerne persistence. Balansa clover and burr medic performed well on the sodic soils. Soil compaction was shown to be a significant problem with reductions in crop yield and root growth in wheel tracks. Canola proved to be more sensitive to soil compaction than wheat. Deep ripping removed the compacted layer but the layer reformed if paddocks were stocked during wet periods and as a result of tractor wheel compaction.
1. To explore through on-farm participatory research the potential for a range of different agronomic strategies to improve crop performance and capture the environmental benefits of perennial pasture species in phase farming systems.
2. To develop and deliver management packages to growers which optimize the water and N supply to crops following perennials (lucerne and grasses) in environments where too much water periodically constrains crop growth and yield potential.
The focus of research is on the management of both soil water and N availability during the cropping phase and the impact of treatments on the soil’s physical and chemical characteristics. Crop yields are often restricted by the narrow period in which soils can be worked and by waterlogging over winter. The experimental program has been developed in association with local growers groups (Temora Ag Bureau, Grogan Landcare, and Morangarell Landcare) and in collaboration with NSW Agriculture. The objective is to address specific research issues and production problems identified by farmers.
Note: This project was completed June 30, 2008.