Management impacts on health of soils supporting Australian grain and sugarcane industries

Bell, Michael J., Stirling, Graham R. and Pankhurst, Clive E. (2007). Management impacts on health of soils supporting Australian grain and sugarcane industries. In: Soil & Tillage Research. Triennial International Conference of the International Soil Tillage Research Organisation, Brisbane, Australia, (256-271). 13-18 July 2003. doi:10.1016/j.still.2006.06.013


Author Bell, Michael J.
Stirling, Graham R.
Pankhurst, Clive E.
Title of paper Management impacts on health of soils supporting Australian grain and sugarcane industries
Conference name Triennial International Conference of the International Soil Tillage Research Organisation
Conference location Brisbane, Australia
Conference dates 13-18 July 2003
Proceedings title Soil & Tillage Research   Check publisher's open access policy
Journal name Soil & Tillage Research   Check publisher's open access policy
Place of Publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Publication Year 2007
Sub-type Fully published paper
DOI 10.1016/j.still.2006.06.013
ISSN 0167-1987
Volume 97
Issue 2
Start page 256
End page 271
Total pages 16
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
The grain and sugarcane industries are the dominant cropping enterprises in Australia. Both are facing similar problems in maintaining productivity and profitability, although the management practices employed to achieve these objectives in the two industries differ markedly. The farming systems of both industries have evolved in recent years as our understanding of the physical and chemical benefits of practices like residue retention, reduced tillage and controlled traffic have improved. However the impact of such practices is often evaluated in terms of cost savings, operational efficiencies and efficient capture and use of water.

Soil health has not always been an important consideration in system change in either industry, with the exception that crop rotation has always been recognised as important in minimising the impact of soil-borne pathogens. Rotations have been a key feature of grain cropping systems and short duration legume fallows are becoming more prevalent in the sugar industry after more than 25 years of monocultures. However, intensification of cropping in recent years has meant that the pasture leys that were once a dominant component of the grain rotation systems are increasingly being supplanted by short duration cropping breaks with grain legume or other non-cereal crops.

Soil organic C has generally been recognised as an important component of soil fertility, but more for the role it plays in soil physical and chemical fertility. Links between organic matter status and soil biological health, and particularly to farming system viability and sustainability, have proven difficult to quantify. This has been partly due to a lack of tools or criteria for monitoring relevant soil properties and also to our limited understanding of the interactions between soil health and other system components. However recent studies are suggesting that the amount and quality of organic matter returned as roots and residues, and the placement of that residue relative to areas of future crop root activity, may be significant factors in the sustainable farming systems of the future.

This paper identifies key issues associated with current and developing farming systems in the grain and sugar industries in Australia, and assesses the impact of management practices employed in those systems on soil health. It also identifies some key challenges facing soil biologists and farming systems researchers who are trying to achieve improvements in soil health and sustainability.
Keyword sugarcane
cereal grain
tillage
residue management
rotation
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

 
Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 17 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 14 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Wed, 10 Aug 2011, 15:36:20 EST by System User on behalf of Qld Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation