Water use and drainage under phalaris, annual pasture, and crops on a duplex soil in Western Australia
P. J. Dolling
Australian Journal of Agricultural Research
52(2) 305 - 316
Rising water tables in southern Western Australia are causing waterlogging and salinity problems. These issues are related to a lower level of water use by annual plants than by the native vegetation. Phalaris can use more water than annual pastures and crops because of deeper rooting characteristics and longer growing season. However, there is limited information on the water use of phalaris in the Western Australian environment. There is also very little information on water balances under annual crops and pastures outside the growing season. A field experiment was carried out on a duplex soil between March 1994 and March 1999. Annual rainfall varied between 321 and 572 mm. The study examined soil water content, deep drainage, and productivity of phalaris-based pasture, continuous annual pasture, annual pasture–wheat rotation, and a wheat–lupin rotation. The results showed that the phalaris-based pasture after the establishment year was 25% (1.9 t dry matter/ha) more productive than continuous annual pasture, with the main difference occurring in late spring–early summer. The phalaris-based pasture used, on average, 45 mm/year more water and reduced drainage below 1 m by 44 mm/year compared with the annual pastures and crops. Total drainage below 1 m was 30 mm under the phalaris-based pasture and 74 mm under annual pasture. The greater water use in the phalaris-based pasture occurred in late spring and early summer.
Although differences in total biomass per year occurred between wheat in different rotations there was no difference in the soil water storage prior to the break of the season. There was also no difference in the soil water balance between any of the annual crops and pastures. Differences in soil water storage did occur in some years in October but disappeared by May the following year.Keywords: water balance, salinity, deep drainage, annual pastures, wheat, lupin.
Full text doi:10.1071/AR99167
© CSIRO 2001