Ripping Mallee soils, what are the production benefits?

Kate Finger1, Audrey Delahunty¹, Claire Browne2, James Nuttall³, Ashley Wallace³, Darryl Pearl⁴, Peter Fisher⁵, Colin Aumann⁵, Jeff Tullberg⁶, Nigel Wilhelm⁷

¹ Agriculture Victoria, Corner Eleventh St & Koorlong Ave, Irymple, Victoria, 3498,
² Birchip Cropping Group, 73 Cumming Avenue, Birchip, Victoria, 3483,
³ Agriculture Victoria, 110 Natimuk Road, Horsham, Victoria, 3400,
⁴ Agriculture Victoria, 324 Campbell Street, Swan Hill, Victoria, 3585,
⁵ Agriculture Victoria, 255 Ferguson Road, Tatura, Victoria, 3616,
⁶ Australian Controlled Traffic Farming Association, 823 Hitchcock Road, Buninyong, Victoria, 3357,
⁷ SARDI, Waite Campus, 2b Hartley Grove, Urrbrae, South Australia, 5064 


Historical soil compaction due to random and extensive machinery traffic within paddocks is known to limit crop production.  Physically ameliorating the soil via deep ripping is used to alleviate such compaction and when combined with controlled traffic farming (CTF) benefits may be prolonged.  Previous deep ripping work has demonstrated improved water infiltration and root access to nutrients and water deeper in the profile across various soils.  Research trials were established in 2018 at Woomelang and Kooloonong to determine the effect of deep ripping, with and without inclusion plates on Mallee soils.  Yield improvements of 0.5 t/ha were recorded at Kooloonong, on a deep sand after ripping without inclusion plates to a depth of around 40 cm.  However, no significant yield response was recorded at Woomelang on either a sand over sandy loam dune or sandy loam over clay loam swale where ripping was applied to an average depth of 20 cm.  This indicates that the immediate value of deep ripping is highly dependent on soil type, ripping depth and stored soil water. Multi-year studies are required to assess the long-term value of deep ripping.


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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