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Book: Challenges and Strategies of Dryland Agriculture
Published by: Crop Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy



  1.  p. 373-387
    CSSA Special Publication 32.
    Challenges and Strategies of Dryland Agriculture

    Srinivas C. Rao and John Ryan (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-611-3


    1 Corresponding author(s): robert.belford@dpi.vic.gov.au
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Subsoil Constraints to Dryland Crop Production on the Low Rainfall Alkaline Soils of Southeastern Australia

  1. James Nuttall,
  2. Roger Armstrong,
  3. Mark Imhof,
  4. Mohammad Abuzar and
  5. Robert Belford 
  1. Department of Primary Industries, Horsham, Victoria, Australia
    Department of Primary Industries, Werribee, Victoria, Australia
    Department of Primary Industries, Tatura, Victoria, Australia


In the low rainfall cropping areas of southern Australia, particularly in northwestern Victoria and much of South Australia, soil constraints to crop production are widespread. These constraints include chemical problems of high pH, boron (B), sodicity, and salinity, which in turn are linked to physical problems caused by dense subsoils of limited water holding capacity and high resistance to root penetration. Soils are highly variable spatially (often at scales of <25 m), and have not been mapped at a scale consistent with the needs of land managers. In this environment, current varieties of pulse, cereal, and oilseed crops rarely reach their yield potential, and average yields are about 50% of the potential set by genetics and rainfall. This chapter describes soil properties and their spatial variation, and reviews the response of cereal crops to the soil constraints in this environment. The chapter concludes with a review of current and future options to overcome the limitations posed by these soils, in terms of both adaptation of crops, and amelioration of soils.

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