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Effects of rundown in soil hydraulic condition on crop productivity in south-eastern Queensland - a simulation study

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Connolly, R.D., Freebairn, D.M., Bell, M. J. and Thomas, G. (2001) Effects of rundown in soil hydraulic condition on crop productivity in south-eastern Queensland - a simulation study. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 39 (5). pp. 1111-1129. ISSN 0004-9573


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/SR00089


Declining soil organic matter levels because of cropping have been shown to reduce crop growth and yield, but the effects of changing infiltration and soil hydraulic properties on crop productivity have not been widely evaluated. Cropping systems in south-eastern Queensland have, in the past, involved intense tillage, trafficking with heavy machinery, and changed organic matter cycling, affecting soil aggregation, permeability, water-holding characteristics, and organic matter. The aim of this paper is to determine how important infiltration and soil hydraulic condition has been to the water balance, crop growth, and yield in the past, and may be in the future if management is not changed. Change in physical and chemical condition of the 5 most commonly cropped soils in south-east Queensland (Sodosols, Vertosols with ≤55% clay, Vertosols with >55% clay, Red Ferrosols and Red Chromosols/Kandosols) was measured over 0–70 years of cropping and estimated up to 200 years. The APSIM model was used to predict effects of changing soil condition in a rain-fed, fertilised, wheat-summer fallow cropping system with intense tillage. Decline in infiltration, restricted internal redistribution of water, and increased evaporation reduced water supply to the crop, causing simulated yield to decline by 29, 38, 25, 17, and 13% for the 5 soils, respectively, after 50 years of cropping. Gross margin declined at a faster rate, falling by 36, 50, 40, 20, and 21%, respectively after 50 years because of increasing fertiliser requirement to compensate for declining soil fertility. Crop productivity on most soils continued to steadily decline as period of cropping increased to 200 years. To arrest or reverse this downward trend, it is likely that substantial changes to current cropping systems will be needed, including reducing tillage and trafficking, and improving organic matter levels.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science > Soil and crops. Soil-plant relationships. Soil productivity
Live Archive:09 Jan 2024 04:00
Last Modified:10 Jan 2024 01:30

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