Farm Table says:
The take home messages from this GRDC funded research are below. Please access the full paper via the link below for methodology, references, acknowledgements and discussion.
- While summer crops offer rotational options in the farming system, choose the correct crop to match your available soil water and crop history
- Sorghum is a reliable performer often exceeding other options in terms of $ returned per mm used
- Cotton and maize require higher water availability and produce less reliable WUE ($/mm). However, cotton has legacy impacts on water availability for subsequent crops that should be considered
- Mungbean can produce higher $/mm in low water availability situations (<200 mm of rain + soil water). Repeated sowings of mungbeans are likely to induce yield reductions due to disease
- Sorghum crops sown with > 150 mm of plant available water will maximise crop WUE and profitability. Every extra mm at sowing could be worth as much as $35-70 extra return/ha
- Higher density sorghum crops may provide greater crop competition against weeds and potential upside yield benefits in good season. We have seen limited legacy benefits (e.g. improved ground cover) or costs (e.g. greater soil water/nutrient extraction) for soil water or nutrient availability.
Figure 1. Relationships between crop water use (in-crop rainfall + soil water extraction) and crop revenue generated amongst 100 summer crops grown in farming systems experiments 2015-2019 (sorghum n= 51, mungbean n = 28, cotton n = 10, sunflower n = 4, maize n = 5).