Claying and deep ripping can increase crop yields and profits on water repellent sands with marginal fertility in southern Western Australia

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Date: Mar. 2010
From: Australian Journal of Soil Research(Vol. 48, Issue 2)
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Document Type: Report
Length: 6,403 words

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Abstract :

Sandplain soils on the south coast of Western Australia have multiple limitations to crop production that include water repellence, low water and nutrient retention, subsoil acidity, and high soil strength. Crops on sandplain soils achieve, on average, almost 85% of their rainfall-limited yield potential; however, where there are multiple limitations the corresponding value is often Crop yields were increased by 0.3-0.6 t/ha as result of added clay. The clay content of the surface soil required to alleviate water repellence and achieve the highest yield increases was 3-6% in soils with ~1% organic carbon. Longer term effects of claying included increased soil organic carbon by 0.2%, pH by 0.6 units, potassium by 47 mg/kg, soil strength by 250 kPa, and cation exchange capacity by 1.3 [cmol.sub.c]/kg to a depth of 0.1 m. However, changes in plant- available water (mm/m) were inconsistent between the clay treatments. Deep ripping to 0.5 m increased crop yields by 0.1-0.5 t/ha. These crop yield responses were still evident 3 years after the ripping treatment had been applied. Soil strength measurements indicate that re-compaction of the tipped treatments had occurred to a depth of 0.2 m in the second year following tipping. Crop responses to claying and deep tipping were additive. Claying and deep ripping, while almost doubling yields, achieved only 50-70% of the rainfall-limited yield potential on these marginally fertile soils. The highest clay rates ( 3-6%) had cumulative discounted cash returns $AUl00-200/ha higher than the unclayed 'control' treatment and $300/ha higher than the lowest clay rates. For most of the clay treatments, deep tipping increased discounted returns between 2005 and 2007 by $80-120/ha. Additional keywords: water repellence, claying, sands, deep ripping, organic carbon.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A225247438