Sustainable implementation of no-till farming systems – NSW

Exploring nitrogen strategies to boost crop yields in NSW Mallee region

Key objectives

Evaluate Diverse Crop Rotations

Assess Additional Nitrogen Inputs

Monitor Soil Nitrogen Levels

About the project

The cropping region in Southwestern NSW has evolved dramatically since the early 2000’s and over the past decade, there has been a further refinement in paddock rotations with the adoption of more diverse rotations. Legume crops such as lentils, chickpea, field pea and vetch have become an important component of regional crop sequences and the added nitrogen (N) supply from these enterprises is providing significant vigour and yield benefits to subsequent cereal crops.

Despite the obvious benefits from improved N supply, farmers are balancing risk and wary to apply additional N inputs from inorganic fertiliser inputs. Therefore, the question remains – can further productivity gains be achieved, particularly in better rainfall seasons, with improved N supply over and above what is supplied through the organic N sources from legumes. Furthermore, while pulse crops can fix considerable quantities of N, significant quantities of N are also removed as hay and grain. Therefore, additional N fertiliser inputs may be required to prevent N being mined from the soil organic N pool.

In 2020, a new trial was established near Gol Gol in the South Western NSW Mallee region with funding from the Western Local Land Services. This trial will run over three years to compare rotations with differing levels of N supply and inputs. In the subsequent season the break phase will be followed by a sequence of wheat and barley, with varying levels of fertiliser inputs overlayed.

The Aim of Sustainable implementation of no till farming systems – NSW

Evaluate Diverse Crop Rotation

Examine the impact of diverse rotations, particularly the inclusion of legumes like lentils, chickpeas, field peas, and vetch in the cropping sequences of Southwestern NSW to understand their role in enhancing nitrogen supply to subsequent cereal crops.

Assess Additional Nitrogen Inputs

Explore the potential for further productivity gains by comparing the effects of organic nitrogen sources from legumes versus additional inorganic nitrogen fertilizers, especially during better rainfall seasons.

Monitor Soil Nitrogen Levels

Investigate the balance of nitrogen fixation by pulse crops against the nitrogen removed in the form of hay and grain, and determine the necessity of supplemental nitrogen fertilization to prevent depletion of soil organic nitrogen.


Working together with farmers

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