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Improving low rainfall cropping subsoils for better water use efficiency, better yield and improved soil health

Improving low rainfall cropping subsoils for better water use efficiency, better yield and improved soil health

Beacon WA

  • Author: Wheatbelt NRM
  • Date Posted: Nov 27, 2015
  • Category:

Project Details

Project Delivery: Wheatbelt NRM, Individual Landholder, DAFWA

Contact: Tracey Hobbs

Ph: 96703106


Website: Wheatbelt NRM Website

Start Date: 2015                       End Date: 2017

Site ID: SA00342SA1

Area (Ha): 3.5


Project Aim

To evaluate improvements to soil infiltration and productivity by increasing root penetration to subsoil that is impacted by compaction, sodicity or acidity, through incorporating lime, gypsum or organic matter.


By incorporating gypsum or chicken manure pellets to stabilize clay soils and addition lime to York Gum soils the benefits of deep ripping should be prolonged.


Project Description

With the low growing season rainfall, farmers in the eastern grain belt need to maximise the water and fertilizer use efficiency of their cropping systems.  Soil infiltration needs to be optimized to reduce the risk of runoff and plant root depths need to be maximized to ensuring that the roots can follow nutrients and water down the profile subsoil.


The answer is not as simple as tackling one issue rather looking at all of the elements and treating them together.  Treating soil compaction by deep ripping will not achieve long term benefits without addressing other soil constraints like soil acidity or sodicity.


Benefits to deep ripping the soils, in terms of increased grain production and improved infiltration behavior, should last longer when the clay soil is stabilized by the addition of gypsum or chicken manure pellets and when the York Gum soil is improved by the addition of lime.


The adoption of such improvements is very dependent on their duration; the longer the benefit the more economical and environmentally sustainable the one off cost of the establishment will be and therefore the adoption of the practice.


This trial site is co-located with and will add value to the GRDC trial “Minimising the impact of soil compaction on crop yield” project run by DAFWA.  This project linkage will enable greater trial assessment and increased extension potential on how to best manage soil compaction.



Project Outputs

Project outputs will be added once the trial has been completed.





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