James Nuttall1, Audrey Delahunty2, Garry O’Leary1, Frank Henry3, Ashley Wallace1
1 Agriculture Victoria, 110 Natimuk Road, Horsham, Victoria, 3400, firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Agriculture Victoria, Cnr Eleventh Street & Koorlong Avenue, Irymple, Victoria 3498
3 Agriculture Victoria, 915 Mt Napier Road, Hamilton, Victoria 3300
In semi-arid cropping regions where rainfall is variable, stored soil water is important for reducing the impact of dry periods. Water lost, in-season due to evaporation represents a lost opportunity for building yield potential. We tested the value of protecting a wheat crop from inter-row evaporation on growth and water use efficiency. Protecting the inter-row area using PVC cover significantly increased yield by up to 50%. This demonstrates the benefit of water conservation and/or concentration of water shed to the crop row in a decile 2 year. The alternative inter-row cover options of a spray-on polymer or 5 t/ha of stubble as a mat did not provide the same benefit as using PVC cover, where yields were equivalent to when there was no cover. Given the promising results for the PVC cover, testing other inter-row control measures including alternative polymer formulations, stubble load and arrangement or canopy designs to limit evaporative losses of soil water, in-season is of value.