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RESEARCH ARTICLE

The effect of raised beds on soil structure, waterlogging, and productivity on duplex soils in Western Australia

D. M. Bakker A E , G. J. Hamilton B , D. J. Houlbrooke C and C. Spann D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Agriculture, 444 Albany Highway, Albany, WA 6330, Australia.

B Department of Agriculture, 3 Baron Hay Court, South Perth, WA 6330, Australia.

C AgResearch, Private Bag 11, Dunedin, New Zealand.

D Department of Agriculture, Mount Barker Research Station, Mount Barker, WA 6324, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: dbakker@agric.wa.gov.au

Australian Journal of Soil Research 43(5) 575-585 https://doi.org/10.1071/SR03118
Submitted: 1 August 2003  Accepted: 21 March 2005   Published: 8 August 2005

Abstract

Waterlogging and poor soil structure in the root-zone of duplex soils in Western Australia has long been recognised as a major constraint to the production of agricultural crops and pastures. The effect of raised beds on waterlogging, soil structure, and productivity of duplex soils was investigated. Five experimental sites were established, monitored, and operated over 5 years as well as 3 larger scale demonstration sites which were operated over 4 or 3 years. Treatments consisted of raised beds and a normal no-till seed bed as the control. The beds were made with a bed former after the soil had been deep cultivated. Bulk density and steady-state infiltration rate observations indicated significant and lasting improvements in soil structure in the beds. The incidence of waterlogging in raised beds was reduced and this was accompanied by an increase in runoff from the raised beds. The average grain yield increase from the beds was 18% for a variety of crops across a range of climatic conditions and duplex soils. Seven years after the introduction of raised beds for broad-acre farming in Western Australia, more than an estimated 30 000 ha of crops is now grown on raised beds.

Additional keywords: Mediterranean climate.


Acknowledgment

This work has been partly funded by the GRDC. The assistance of Peter Tipping in the field work and data collection is gratefully acknowledged. The contribution of the growers: H. Morrell, R. Thomson, M. Addis, W. Armstrong, T. Shenton, N. Flugge, M. Adams, L. White, and Mr. Doug Rowe (Department of Agriculture WA) and the staff of the Esperance Downs Research Station and manufacturers Gessners Industries (Toowoomba), Walkers (formerly Merredin), and Simplicity Australia (Dalby) is greatly appreciated.


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