Wheat versus Barley– managing nitrogen for profitability following canola and wheat

Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia - Christine Zaicou-Kunesch et al.

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

Research found that high rates of nitrogen were a greater risk to barley than wheat.

What was the problem?

The aim of the research was to compare responses of barley and wheat varieties to changes in nitrogen application.

What did the research involve?

  • Ten cereal type x variety x nitrogen experiments were conducted in the WA wheat belt.
  • Six were sown into wheat stubble (wheat/barley on wheat)
  • Four were sown into canola stubble (wheat/barley on canola) from the previous season.
  • Each experiment consisted of 24 treatments in a split plot cyclic design with 3 replications. The 24 treatments consisted of 12 cereal varieties (6 barley and 6 wheat) and 4 nitrogen rates

What were the key findings?

  • Barley was higher yielding than wheat at six of the nine sites, similar at two sites and lower yielding at one other site. Biomass and head numbers were higher in barley than wheat.
  • Averaged across all varieties, both crops were responsive to added nitrogen at either 20 or 40 kg/ha. Higher rates of nitrogen reduced barley yields in some environments in 2014.
  • At current prices of >$300/t, barley is a more profitable option at sites suitable for barley production (note grain quality data was not available at the time of printing).

Final Comment

2015 - Australia - Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia - Christine Zaicou-Kunesch et al.
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