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Fallow management, soil water, plant-available soil nitrogen and grain sorghum production in south west Queensland

G Gibson, BJ Radford and RGH Nielsen

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 32(4) 473 - 482
Published: 1992


The effects of tillage frequency (conventional, reduced and zero), primary tillage implement (disc, blade and chisel plough), stubble management (retention and removal), gypsum application, and paraplowing were examined with respect to soil water storage, soil nitrate accumulation, crop establishment, crop growth, grain yield and grain nitrogen content for 4 successive sorghum crops on a sodic, texture-contrast soil in south west Queensland. Retention of sorghum stubble (v. removal) produced an increase in mean yield of sorghum grain of 393 kg/ha, due to increased soil water extraction and increased water use efficiency by the following crop. The highest mean yield occurred after reduced blade tillage with stubble retained. Zero tillage with stubble removed gave the lowest mean grain yield. Zero tillage always had the lowest quantity of soil nitrate-nitrogen at sowing. In one fallow, increased aggressiveness of primary tillage (disc v. blade plough) increased the quantity of nitrate-nitrogen in the top 60 cm of soil at sowing. These effects on available soil nitrogen did not result in corresponding differences in grain nitrogen content. Results indicate that for optimum fallow management on this texture-contrast soil in south west Queensland, sorghum residues should be retained, tillage frequency should be reduced, but not to zero, blade ploughing should be preferred to discing, and gypsum application should not be practised.

© CSIRO 1992

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