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Subsoil constraints to grain production in the cropping soils of the north-eastern region of Australia: an overview

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Dang, Y.P., Dalal, R.C., Routley, R., Schwenke, G.D. and Daniells, I. (2006) Subsoil constraints to grain production in the cropping soils of the north-eastern region of Australia: an overview. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 46 (1). pp. 19-35.


Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA04079

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au


In dryland agricultural systems of the subtropical, semi-arid region of north-eastern Australia, water is the most limiting resource. Crop productivity depends on the efficient use of rainfall and available water stored in the soil during fallow. Agronomic management practices including a period of fallow, stubble retention, and reduced tillage enhance reserves of soil water. However, access to stored water in these soils may be restricted by the presence of growth-limiting conditions in the rooting zone of the crop. These have been termed as subsoil constraints. Subsoil constraints may include compacted or gravel layers (physical), sodicity, salinity, acidity, nutrient deficiencies, presence of toxic elements (chemical) and low microbial activity (biological). Several of these constraints may occur together in some soils. Farmers have often not been able to obtain the potential yield determined by their prevailing climatic conditions in the marginal rainfall areas of the northern grains region. In the past, the adoption of soil management practices had been largely restricted to the top 100 mm soil layer. Exploitation of the subsoil as a source of water and nutrients has largely been overlooked. The key towards realising potential yields would be to gain better understanding of subsoils and their limitations, then develop options to manage them practically and economically. Due to the complex nature of the causal factors of these constraints, efforts are required for a combination of management approaches rather than individual options, with the aim to combat these constraints for sustainable crop production, managing natural resources and avoiding environmental damage.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), Agri-Science, Crop and Food Science, Emerging Technologies
Business groups:Crop and Food Science
Additional Information:Reproduced with permission from © CSIRO Publishing. Access to published version may be available via Publisher’s website.
Keywords:Red-brown earth; New South Wales; sodic soils; physical properties; salt tolerance; no-tillage; clay soil; water use; gypsum; Queensland.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science
Live Archive:21 Jan 2009 04:57
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:43

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