Management of stubble is key to sustainable cropping systems. Some of the benefits of stubble management include reduced erosion, improved ground cover, moisture retention, increase in plant available water, improved soil biology, prevention of wind and water erosion, and improve soil structure.
However, while stubble retention has many advantages, there are a number of challenges including control of pests, management of weeds, nitrogen tie-up, allelopathy, difficulties at sowing, and handling of the stubble itself. Nitrogen tie up, or immobilisation, refers to when stubble can ‘tie-up’ early season nitrogen as soil microbes utilise it as fuel when breaking down the stubble.
A number of decisions have to be made at harvest, after harvest and at sowing around stubble management. Before (and after) harvest, calculating the stubble load is important in order to minimise the likelihood of having to burn stubbles. After harvest, a number of different approaches to stubble management exist, including leaving the stubble standing, mulching, incorporation, cultivation, slashing, chaining, rolling or grazing.
Stubble can provide an important feed for livestock and provides an opportunity to rest other pastures. Management of livestock on stubbles is a key focus of the stubble hub as planning and review is important as stubbles may be low in nutritional value.
In this toolkit there is a wide range of stubble management information, tools and calculators, and research and trial information.
Introductory stubble resources focus on tips to successful stubble grazing, benefits of stubble management, stubble management guides, as well as a glossary of frequently used stubble terms.
The stubble management research papers in this toolkit come from across Australia. Topics include stubble and dry sowing, managing blackleg in stubble retained systems, influence of loose lick in stubble grazing systems, weed seed management, double cropping into standing stubble, effects of stubble on nitrogen tie-up and supply.
In the grazing stubbles section, resources look at grazing strategies, weaner growth, supplementation on stubbles, profitability of grazing stubbles, and guides to estimating stubble feed value.