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

Bell, R.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-7756-3755, 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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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?

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): 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)
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