Long term impacts on crop productivity following amelioration of a sandy soil

Melissa Fraser1, Nigel Wilhelm2 and David Davenport3

1 Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA), 74 Struan House Rd, Naracoorte, SA, 5271, Melissa.fraser@sa.gov.au,
2 South Australian Research and Development Institute, PIRSA, Urrbrae, SA, 5064,
3 PIRSA, Port Lincoln, SA, 5606


Crop water-use on sandy soils is often poor with productivity constrained by the presence of water repellence, compaction, low water holding capacity and/or poor nutrient and biological fertility. Treatments that addressed these constraints were applied in a field trial on the Eyre Peninsula in 2014. Crop responses and changes in soil fertility have been measured. Physically mixing the soil to 0.3 m by spading was beneficial on this sand; yield responses in the order of 70 to 100 % were seen in 2018, five years after treatments were applied (unmodified control = 2.35 t/ha); further yield increases in the first two years were obtained with the incorporation of lucerne hay in the spading operation.

Similar results were seen in comparable trials in the Murray Mallee and South East of SA, confirming that crop performance on sandy soils can be substantially improved when their inherent constraints are addressed. Understanding the nature and interaction of the constraints is vital to identify the optimum amelioration strategy.


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.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography david_marland@hotmail.com Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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