Low barley seeding rates best on heavy soil
Story Added : 23rd April 2011
The research found low plant densities of 40 to 80 plants per square metre were most profitable on these soil types.
ConsultAg agronomist Angie Roe said plant densities previously recommended for heavy soils of 80 to 100 plants per square metre were too risky in drier seasons.
“Higher plant densities have the potential to produce higher yields in a good year,” she said.
“To reduce the risks of significant losses if the season is dry, it is best to use lower plant densities on heavy soil types, which ‘wet up’ less easily than lighter country.
“Barley planted at higher seeding rates on heavy country at different sites during last year’s drought conditions ‘fizzled out’.
“Barley planted at the lower rates achieved the maximum yield potential for 2010 (on these heavier soils types) of about 1 tonne per hectare.”
Ms Roe said that while lower seeding rates were best for barley sown on heavy soil types, higher rates could be used more safely on lighter soils, without risking significant reductions in yield and grain quality.
“Trial results showed that a much wider range of plant densities – between 40 and 120 plants per square metre can be used more safely on lighter and medium country,” she said.
“Lighter country wets up better and there is more potential for higher seeding rates to still produce reasonable yields.”
Ms Roe said the aim of the research was to improve sustainability and reduce risks associated with growing cereals in the State’s low to medium rainfall areas.
She said that while the trials had been conducted in WA’s central agricultural region, the results could also be applied to other areas with similar rainfall and soil types.
This research was funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and conducted in 2010 by the Kellerberrin Demonstration Group and farm consulting firm ConsultAg.