Riverine Plains Blog

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Drought preparation

Making the most of dual purpose crops

Key messages

  • Dual purpose winter crops can help fill the autumn–winter feed gap
  • While there is currently a full moisture profile, a dry topsoil and potentially dry autumn may impact establishment
  • Be mindful of soil temperature and available soil moisture when sowing early (February–March)
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The Pros and Cons of Stubble Retention

Key Messages
  • Stubble retention has many benefits for soil health, can improve soil moisture and help maintain soil organic carbon levels
  • Different methods of sowing and equipment result in different thresholds for change in terms of maximum stubble load that can be retained
  • If full stubble retention is not feasible due to machinery, weeds or disease constraints, there are other options such as shallow incorporation, slashing straw or cutting short at harvest which can reduce the frequency of burning
Benefits of Stubble Retention

Retaining stubble can reduce the impacts of soil erosion. At least 70 per cent ground cover minimises water erosion risk and 50 per cent ground cover minimises wind erosion risk. Stubble height should be at least one-third of the width of crop rows. In general, the shelter provided by a barrier is approximately three times its height; 10 cm tall stubble will protect the adjacent 30 cm of topsoil. (Source: Managing stubble | General agronomy | Crop production | Grains, pulses and cereals | Crops and horticulture | Agriculture Victoria )

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How Can We Manage and Improve Our Soil Carbon Levels?

Key Messages:
  • Carbon is present in the soil in many different forms.
  • Including a pasture phase and pulses/legumes in the cropping rotation is essential to improve soil organic matter and nitrogen levels, promote microbial activity and ultimately increase soil organic carbon. 
  • Evaluating management practices to increase soil carbon is necessary to ensure they are economically viable for a farming business.
  • Several environmental factors (rainfall, evaporation, solar radiation, and temperature), as well as soil type, nutrient availability and land management influence maximum soil organic carbon storage capacity 
 
What Is Soil Carbon?

Soil carbon can occur in organic and inorganic forms.

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