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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Improved Pasture Establishment and Production on Water-Repellent Soils


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 91 No. 3, p. 467-470
    Received: Jan 28, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): crabtree@muresk.curtin.edu.au
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  1. William L. Crabtree* and
  2. Robert J. Gilkes
  1. W estern Australian No-Tillage Farmers Association, 12 Fermoy Ave, Northam, W.A. 6401, Australia;
    S oil Science and Plant Nutrition, Faculty of Agriculture, Univ. of Western Australia, Nedlands, W.A. 6009, Australia.



Pasture establishment and production is reduced by water-repellent soils. Ameliorative techniques are explored with this study. Two field experiments were conducted on water-repellent soils to investigate (i) the improvement in emergence of pasture species with furrow sowing and the use of a press wheel and banded wetting agent and (ii) the residual effectiveness (applied 2 years previously) of a wetting agent on pasture growth and composition. In the first experiment, conventional level sowing (flat planting) was compared with furrow sowing using press wheels. Five pasture species were included, and the furrow-sown treatments involved a banded wetting agent applied at four rates. Furrow sowing with a planter having press wheels increased the average emergence at 14 days after sowing by 133% relative to the conventional treatment and emergence was further increased 44% by banding 4 L ha−1 of wetting agent in the furrows. There was a large (up to sixfold) increase in early pasture production (330 to 2010 kg ha−1) and a large effect on pasture composition due to the residual effect of a wetting agent applied 2 years previously. The proportion of subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) in the pasture increased from 6 to 33% due to the use of a wetting agent. This study shows that the effect of water repellency on pasture emergence and productivity is severe and that these ameliorative techniques are useful tools for improving pasture emergence.

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