Maximising Benefit from Crop Residues
Project OfficerKristen Mappin
Contact Details

Caring for our Country Sustainable Agriculture Stream: Innovation Grants

The Maximising Benefit From Crop Residues: Practical stubble retention practices in mixed farming systems of WA  project focuses on stubble retention practices to improve soil condition in mixed farming systems of south west WA that sow annual winter cereal crops. It will also compare the effects of stubble management options and the associated cost:benefit ratios. Supported by BBG, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, it will build upon the Fish Emulsion Demonstration Trials held in 2014. (Download the Fish Emulsion Trials  Report Summary )

The first on-site field day for this project will be held in 2016. For more information, please contact the BBG Office on 9765 1555.

Further Information:

This project will assess the potential of an innovative stubble retention practice 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.

Due to cropping cycles and machinery requirements, 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 (C,N [82%],P,K,S) within the stubble. This proposal will demonstrate an innovative method and assess the cost/benefit of modifying crop residues to improve soil condition, using direct comparisons to field burning.

Trials will take place on a property based in Boyup Brook that has a cropping rotation of barley/wheat or wheat/canola. The 6 trial plots will consist of three replicates of two treatments:

  1. Field Burn (common practice), and
  2. Fish hydrolysate application at 10L/ha and stubble crunch (innovative practice).

The innovative practice is not widespread through the SW agricultural region. Many farmers graze their stubbles, however with the trend towards continuous cropping, other practices need to be assessed and adopted to improve resource use efficiency and soil health. In other states, stubble retention practices have shown to increase crop performance and general soil health through such measures as moisture retention, microbial diversity and increases in soil organic carbon.

This project will provide in-depth monitoring to assess the impacts of these practices. The project partners, Agronomica and UWA, will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in specialist fields to this project. Getting an idea of what happens beneath the surface in each of these trial plots will be key information to extend to the farming community to factor into their land management practices.A cost-benefit analysis of these practices will underpin these results and add to the development of adoption-ready, locally-specific resources for farmers.