The need for a long-term field experiment to manage subsoil acidity

Guangdi D. Li and Richard C. Hayes

NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute, PMB, Pine Gully Road, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650,,


Many of the important questions facing farming systems in the world today, such as soil acidity, require long-term studies to provide meaningful information and answers. Managing subsoil acidity is a research topic that lends itself to long term experimentation. Methods known to ameliorate acidity in the subsoil take decades due to slow biochemical processes, so extended periods of time are required to monitor results. Furthermore, soil pH is a fundamental driver of soil biological and chemical processes, and so impacts upon crops and upon the soil environment can be complex requiring additional time for monitoring in order to fully understand the processes. In late 2014, a multidisciplinary team was formed, including agronomists, soil chemists, soil physicists, economists, system modellers and farm advisers as well as leading farmers. In early 2015, a long-term field experiment was established at Dirnaseer, west of Cootamundra, NSW to a) manage subsoil acidity through innovative amelioration methods that will increase productivity, profitability and sustainability; and b) to study soil processes, such as the changes of soil chemical, physical and biological properties under vigorous soil amelioration techniques over the longer term. The current paper discusses the principles of setting up a long-term experiment and develops a framework of designing a long-term experiment to manage subsoil acidity in the high rainfall cropping region of southern Australia.


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

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David Marland Photography Southern Farming Systems Agriculture Victoria

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