Reduced frost damage on crops after strategic deep tillage – evidence from field experiments in Western Australia

Giacomo Betti1, Tom Edwards1, Ben Biddulph1, Stephen Davies1, Andrew Van Burgel1, David Hall1 and Chloe Turner2

1 Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), 3 Baron-Hay Ct, Kensington, WA, 6000.,
2 Facey Group, 40 Wogolin Rd, Wickepin, WA, 6370


Soil amelioration for the management of water repellent soils (Betti et al. 2018) can potentially reduce crop damage in frost prone areas as suggested by several anecdotal and research reports (Rebbeck et al. 2007). Subsoil clay addition (by clay delving) has been demonstrated to reduce frost damage in wheat (Rebbeck et al. 2007). Some evidence indicates a possible benefit from soil amelioration with deep tillage (Butcher et al. 2017) but was insufficient to prove a direct link between soil amelioration and a reduction in frost severity and duration. By comparing multiple sites in different seasons, this research demonstrates that amelioration with strategic deep tillage (i.e. rotary spading) can reduce frost severity and duration and presents evidence that this reduced crop damage, can contribute to improved productivity.


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 Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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