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Boron levels in soils of the Western Australia wheatbelt and implications for crop production

Bell, R.W., Frost, K., Wong, M.T.F., Leach, B. and Brennan, R.F. (2000) Boron levels in soils of the Western Australia wheatbelt and implications for crop production. In: Soils 2000 : making our science more useable : proceedings of conference Muresk Institute of Agriculture, 11 - 13 July, Northam, WA, Australia pp. 80-85.

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Abstract

Boron (B) is removed from soils when crop products are harvested. However, B has never been used as a fertiliser in broadacre agriculture in WA. A GRDC-funded project was started in 1998 to consider the sustainability of this mining of soil B. The project aims are to (1) map the spatial distribution of B deficiency in canola and lupin; (2) investigate the role of B in soil and plants for grain yield of canola and lupin, and; (3) develop management options for B to take account of soil properties and crop requirements. The present paper reports preliminary results that begin to define the extent of low B soils in the W A wheatbelt and its likely implications for crop production. Young leaves of canola and lupin crops were sampled at 136 sites in the wheatbelt during vegetative growth in 1998. Potentially B deficient crops representing 10- 20 % of sites were widely distributed throughout the wheatbelt. In 73 Reference Soils of south-west Australia, extractable soil B was positively correlated with soil pH and clay content. A preliminary study of the response of farmers' canola crops to a B spray was conducted at 7 sites with sandy to sandy loam texture in the Great Southern Region of WA in 1998. For all sites, a mean increase of 14% in seed yield was found from the B spray application at flowering. Preliminary pot trial results suggest that responses to B in canola and lupins will occur on a number of low B soils. Our results tend to confirm that the risk of B deficiency warrants further consideration. The key questions now are: where is it most likely to occur, under what crops is it most likely, what seasonal factors bring on B deficiency and what are the management options for dealing with the problem?

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Australian Society of Soil Science Inc (WA Branch) and the Environmental Consultants Association (WA Inc.)
Copyright: © Australian Society of Soil Science Inc (WA Branch)
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/18846
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