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Increasing rainfall-use efficiency for dryland crops on duplex soils

Sale P 1, Gill J 1, Peries R 2, Tang C 1


1

Department of Agricultural Sciences, LTU 2 DPI Victoria, Geelong

Introducing Subsoil Manuring


.a new technology in SE Australia to increase productivity of problem soils with dense clay subsoils.

The problem:
dense clay subsoils

Water logging in wet winters Reduced yields in dry springs

Very dense

No pore space

FEW ROOTS

Small bucket size

Is it possible ?

Research Project

2005-2007

Subsoil amelioration !

Research Project

2005-2007

Treatments
control deep ripped (DR) DR + gypsum DR + MAP DR + gyp/ MAP DR + coarse sand

DR + dynamic lifter (20 t/ha) DR + lucerne pellets (20 t/ha) DR + luc.pellets (20 t/ha) /MAP/gypsum

at 2 sites: - 4 years of grazing lucerne - continuous cropping

Subsoil manuring

2005 wheat crop

2006 wheat crop

Crop responses 2005, 2006


Year Crop
Control SS Man. Control SS Man. (20 t/ha) (20 t/ha)
Grain yield (t/ha) Grain protein (%)

2005 2006

Wheat Wheat

7.6 3.6

12.9 5.6

9.1 10.8

13.4
13.9

Loss of soil water (mm) from subsoil layers during the 2005 crop
Soil water (mm)
60 40 20 0 0 20

Soil water (mm)


60 40 20 0
0 20

*
** ***

40
60 80

Depth 40 (cm)
60 80

(- 57 mm) CONTROL

(- 123 mm) Subsoil manuring

Accumulation of soil water (mm) in subsoil layers during 2006 summer fallow
Soil water (mm)
0 20 40 60 0 0 20 40 60 80

Soil water (mm)


0 20 40 60

Depth 20 (cm) 40
60 80

** ***

(+45 mm) CONTROL

(+125 mm) Subsoil manuring

Loss of soil water (mm) from subsoil layers during the 2006 crop
Soil water (mm)
60 40 20 0 0 20

Soil water (mm)


60 40 20 0
0 20

* ** ***
(- 57 mm) CONTROL

40
60 80

Depth 40 (cm)
60 80

(- 136 mm) Subsoil manuring

Rainfall-use efficiency in 2006


(kg grain/mm annual RF)
CONTROL Subsoil Manuring 12.9 kg/mm 20.1 kg/mm

What is happening in the subsoil?


Subsoil 4 years after incorporation

Control: 30-40 cm

Lucerne +: 30-40 cm

Across the bed

Subsoil manuring: why does it transform clay?


manure
microbes
+

polysaccharides clay particles

Roots

clay aggregates

Subsoil manuring: how much does it cost?

Manure cost: $ 18-25 / tonne Rate: 20 tonne / ha Freight: say $ 8-15 / tonne

Incorporation: say $150 / ha

TOTAL = $ 670-950 /ha

Poultry litter
(equal to lucerne pellets)

Great interest among farmers

Acknowledgements
I would like to acknowledge GRDC for funding (Project ULA0008), and the Australian Research Council for funding (Project LP0455551), and my co-authors Jaikirat Gill, Renick Peries, and Caixian Tang for their great team effort.

Thank You