Modelling shows that the high rates of deep drainage in parts of the Goondoola Basin in semi-arid Queensland can be reduced with changes to the farming systems

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From: Australian Journal of Soil Research(Vol. 48, Issue 1)
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Document Type: Report
Length: 7,054 words

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Abstract :

Clearing native vegetation and introducing crops and pastures may increase deep drainage and result in dryland salinity. In south-west Queensland, native vegetation of the Goondoola Basin has been substantially cleared for cropping and pastoral activities, resulting in shallow groundwater and localised salinity. Simulation modelling was used to estimate the water balance of a range of vegetation and soil types. Six soils were studied, with plant-available water capacity (PAWC) of 71 mm (a Kandosol) to 198 mm (a Vertosol) for 1200 mm depth. Vegetation types were annual wheat, opportunity cropping, and perennial pastures in poor and good condition, and high quality perennial pasture with deep roots growing on deep (2400 mm) variants of the 6 soil types. Opportunity cropping did not reduce deep drainage. Substantial differences were found in long-term average deep drainage (mm/year) between wheat crops and pastures for all soil types. The differences in deep drainage between wheat cropping and pasture in good condition were greatest for the 2 Kandosols, which had the lowest PAWC (34 and 21 mm/year less deep drainage, reductions of 53% and 62%, respectively), and a Vertosol with intermediate PAWC (23 mm/year less deep drainage). A Chromosol and a Dermosol with intermediate PAWC had smaller reductions in deep drainage (14 and 11 mm/year, respectively). In the case of a Vertosol with high PAWC (198 mm), deep drainage was negligible with all pastures. Due to increased infiltration and reduced soil evaporation, more deep drainage was simulated with pasture in good condition than pastures in poor condition, especially for 2 Kandosols. Pasture with deep roots (2400 mm) growing on deep variants (2400 mm) of the 6 soils had lower rates of deep drainage than the other pastures. Simulated deep drainage and other components of the water balance were in good agreement with field measurements and expectations. These results indicate that large reductions in deep drainage can be achieved in the Goondoola Basin by replacing cropping with pastoral activities. Kandosol soils used for wheat cropping should be the primary target for land use change.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A222313807