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Long Term Fertility Lesson for West Midlands Sands

Long Term Fertility Lesson for West Midlands Sands


  • Author: Northern Agricultural Catchments Council
  • Date Posted: Dec 12, 2014
  • Category: ,

Project Details

Project Delivery: West Midlands Group

Contact: Anne Wilkins

Phone: (08) 9651 4008



Supporting Organisation: Northern Agricultural Catchments Council


Start Date: November 2014 End Date: June 2016

Site ID: 1512-05-02

Size Are Ha: 1


Project Aim

This site presents a unique opportunity to answer some long term, soil fertility questions resulting from the development of sandy soils in the Northern Agricultural Region that have arisen with the rediscovery of a trial, 80Ba6, which was laid down in 1980 at Badgingarra. This trial is now showing residual effects, nearly 30 years after it was last assessed.

The questions this site addresses are: Does the blue lupin revolution for building soil fertility on Midlands light soils (fostered by Sir Eric Smart in the 1950s) have consequences and provide insights to current soil management questions? Are there implications for soil acidification? What are the potential soil carbon fertility improvements under long term regenerating lupins? Does a long term lupin history accelerate soil non-wetting properties? How does the fertiliser history interact with soil acidification and conservation of the soil resource?


In the first year, a comprehensive review of all existing results from the early 1980s is being undertaken. The site treatment plan will be confirmed and treatment areas pegged out.
Selected treatment profiles will be soil sampled and characterised to determine differences in soil fertility related to the major treatment differences. Assessments include general soil fertility measures such as soil pH and aluminium levels, exchangeable cations and Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), P leaching, carbon sequestration, and soil wettability. An innovative drone system (Riethmuller, DAFWA, Merredin) for taking detailed aerial shots of the plots from close range is being used in both years

In the second year the site will be cropped to give a bioassay of the soil fertility levels. The original plots will be crossed with plus/minus P and nitrogen (N) fertiliser treatments to measure the response to these nutrients at their different soil levels resulting from the original treatments.


This project is being delivered by West Midlands Group and is supported by Northern Agricultural Catchments Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

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