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Stubble Retention

Stubble Retention

Mayanup, Western Australia

  • Author: SWCC
  • Date Posted: Aug 28, 2014
  • Category:
  • Address: Mayanup, Western Australia

Project Details

Project Delivery: Blackwood Basin Group

Contact: Peter Clifton (SWCC – Bunbury). Ph: 9780 6268. Email:

Website: SWCC Sustainable Agriculture

Start Date:  July 2014                     End Date: June 2017

Site ID:  IN10

Size Are Ha: 2.3


Project Aim

Field burning is often used to reduce stubble burden in preparation for next season, leaving the area vulnerable to wind and water erosion and losing over 60% of macro elements within the stubble.

This project will assess the potential of innovative stubble retention practices to both enhance crop productivity through improved soil physical, chemical and biological processes, and simultaneously address wind erosion, soil acidification and stabilisation of soil carbon content to improve soil health.


The project will:

  • Compare the effects of stubble management treatments (below) on soil structure, nutrient availability and retention, soil salinity, soil microbiology, soil-borne diseases and crop yield.
  • Compare the cost:benefit ratio of different management options

This trial is based on providing optimal conditions for stubble breakdown by microbial action.

This project will take place on 1 farm that has a cropping rotation of wheat/wheat or wheat/barley. The 6 trial plots (2 treatments with three plots each) will run for two years and consist of:

  1. Field Burn
  2. Fish hydrolysate application at 10L/ha and stubble crunch

Fish hydrolysate has a high nitrogen content that will alter the C:N ratio of the stalk to be within the parameters of available microbial food. Stubble crunching will splinter the stubble stalks to increase the surface area in contact with the soil in addition to surface area:volume ratio. Adding lime will reduce the risk of soil acidity affecting soil microbial presence and activity.

Monitoring will include:

  • Comprehensive physical, chemical and biological soil testing at different depths before and after each treatment application
  • Mycorrhizae assessment
  • Protein, hectolitre weight & screenings of harvested crop
  • Physical assessment, including crop performance, grazing, pest and disease issues

This project is supported by Agronomica and the University of Western Australia.

*Join the growing number of farmers and industry advisers receiving trial updates by subscribing to SWCC’s Sustainable Agriculture E-newsletter.  Simply email with “Subscribe to SWAG” as the subject.

Photo credits: Nathan Leitch – Kojonup.


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