Water Use Efficiency

Catch More, Store More, Grow More

Project Details (2008 to 2013)

The 'Catch More, Store More, Grow More' project, funded by GRDC, focuses on maximising water use efficiency in a mixed farming system. Although a no-till, stubble retained, controlled traffic system is generally viewed as the 'ideal' system for maximising water use efficiency, grower feedback has indicated two main reasons for the low adoption of such a system in this region. These include:

  1. The importance of livestock in the region and the unknown trade-offs associated with incorporating livestock into this 'ideal' system.
  2. Limited local scientific data quantifying the soil structural benefits of controlled traffic farming on soil types specific to the region, despite supportive anecdotal evidence.

The project therefore aims to quantify the water use efficiencies achievable through a no-till, stubble retained, controlled traffic system and the limitations or trade-offs imposed when a component/s of this sytem is altered, eg. through grazing or burning. To do this, a trial site has been established near Temora on a red earth soil. The site is managed under a controlled traffic system, sown with knife points and press wheels on 300mm row spacing. The trial is structured as follows:

  • Winter: Measuring the trade-off between crop grazing for extra feed (and potentially deferred moisture use) vs not grazing to maintain soil structure.
  • Summer: Measuring the trade-off between stubble grazing for extra feed vs not grazing to maintain soil structure.
  • Autumn: Measuring the trade-off between burning for trash handling & disease management vs stubble retention (inter-row sowing) for moisture conservation.

An additional trial has also been included at the site focusing on management of the lucerne phase prior to returning to crop, and how this impacts on crop water use efficiency. The trial measures the impact of grazing and cultivation of the lucerne prior to cropping, as follows:

  • Summer prior to crop: After spray fallowing, measuring the trade-off between grazing for extra feed vs not grazing to maintain soil structure.
  • Autumn prior to crop: Measuring the trade-off between tillage (ie. 'tickle' with knife points or cultivation with sweeps) to improve water infiltration following grazing vs no-till to maintain soil structure and moisture

Latest Reports

Click the PDF icon below for the latest Yield Prophet report (simulating real-time crop growth & yield potential) for the 'Catch More, Store More, Grow More' trial site.

Yield Prophet Reports Yield Prophet Reports (157 KB)

Go Back