A new five-year research project aims to identify cost-effective practices to help western growers overcome constraints to productivity and profitability on forest gravel soils. GRDC Western Panel chair Peter Roberts says the new project, starting in July 2016, is focused on forest gravel soils as they are the dominant soil type across about three million hectares of Western Australia’s high-rainfall cropping zone.
“In recent years, there has been a shift away from pasture to cropping on these soil types, but despite the high rainfall, grain yields and profits are often low due to soil constraints and other issues,” Mr Roberts says.
“Gravel contained in the soil can adversely affect the soils’ water-holding capacity, acidity, organic matter, root growth, nutrient supply, and the effectiveness of fertiliser and herbicide applications. The topsoil layer is often sandy with limited ability to supply nutrients, plus there is a tendency for forest gravel soils to become water-repellent, and phosphorus deficiency is a common problem,” he says.
The project is part of the GRDC’s new External Investment Plan 2016-17, which is also exploring crop heat tolerance, weeds, slugs and snails, legumes in low and medium-rainfall zones, education resources, biosecurity, karnal bunt fungal disease, and soil water and nutrients.
Peter Roberts, GRDC Western Panel chair,
0428 389 060,
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