How do I manage stubble?

Corangamite Catchment Management Authority

Type: Webpage
Knowledge level: Introductory

Farm Table says:

Introductory resource on stubble management and retention.

This webpage from the Corangamite Region  ‘Brown Book’ provides an introduction to stubble, Stubble retention and soil health, advantages of stubble retention, disadvantages of stubble retention, best practice, and managing stubble burning.

A preview of webpage information:

Advantages of stubble retention:

  • Increases in soil water and plant available water (PAW)
  • Decreases in surface (slaking) and subsoil (sodic) issues
  • Increases in organic carbon percentages
  • Increases in soil biological functions
  • Decreasing soil erosion potential
  • Improved soil air and pore spaces for better plant root exploration
  • Decrease in off-site leaking/loss of nutrients and pesticides
  • Potential increase in the amount of available energy for grazing animals
  • Burning it will also have the following negative impacts:
    • Potential off-site issues
    • Increasingly frowned upon by the community
    • Valuable carbon and other nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur literally go up in smoke. Approximately four kilograms of nitrogen are lost with every tonne of wheat stubble burnt
  • The volume of surface residues in many paddocks and the time available for stubble management may mean some growers will decide to burn
  • There may be better long-term options but burning is a quick, simple, cheap, and effective way of reducing surface trash
  • The degree of benefit will depend on the timing, temperature and thoroughness of the burn
  • Burning it will also have the following positive impacts:
    • Reduce residue volume
    • Kill some weed seeds
    • Lower the risk of stubble-borne diseases and reduce some pest problems, such as snails and mice

Problems with stubble retention:

  • High stubble loads present as surface trash at seeding time have the potential to disrupt seeding and impact on crop establishment
  • Large volumes of surface trash will also reduce the efficacy of soil-activated preemergence herbicides
  • The management of large residues also has nutrition implications because nitrogen is required for cereal stubble breakdown

2012 - Australia - Corangamite Catchment Management Authority
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