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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 57(11)

Improving the performance of canola in retained wheat stubble

S. E. Bruce A B C E, M. H. Ryan D, J. A. Kirkegaard A E, J. Pratley C

A CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
B Current address: Bureau of Rural Sciences, GPO Box 858, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
C Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650, Australia.
D School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.
E Corresponding authors. Email: sarah.bruce@brs.gov.au; john.kirkegaard@csiro.au
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Four field experiments investigated strategies to reduce the negative effects of surface-retained wheat stubble on the emergence, growth, and yield of canola. All experiments compared 3 stubble treatments: (1) no stubble (stubble removed or burnt); (2) stubble-spread (6 t/ha wheat stubble evenly distributed on the surface); and (3) stubble-inter-row (6 t/ha stubble distributed on the inter-rows only). Seedling emergence was reduced in the presence of evenly spread stubble compared with no stubble, and the emerged seedlings had longer hypocotyls, reduced leaf number, and reduced biomass. Reduced shoot growth was not associated with lower shoot N concentration. These early effects on shoot growth persisted at 3 of the 4 sites, resulting in average yield reductions of 26% (range 0–59%) in the stubble-spread treatments compared with no stubble. Restricting stubble to the inter-rows resulted in an initial reduction in seedling growth compared with no stubble, but this difference had diminished by flowering. The yield for the stubble inter-row treatment was similar to no stubble at 2 sites and intermediate between no stubble and stubble-spread at the other 2 sites, with an overall yield reduction of 5.3% compared with no stubble. The results indicate that the negative effects on canola performance of surface-retained wheat stubble can be largely eliminated by adopting sowing techniques that push wheat stubble away from the seeding row and onto the inter-row. This provides a viable option to stubble burning and maintains the benefits of stubble retention.

Keywords: stubble retention, hypocotyl, direct drilling, seedling, establishment.

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