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Micro-Water harvesting and soil amendment increase grain yields of barley on a Heavy-Textured alkaline sodic soil in a rainfed Mediterranean environment

Barrett-Lennard, E.G., Munir, R., Mulvany, D., Williamson, L., Riethmuller, G., Wesley, C. and Hall, D. (2021) Micro-Water harvesting and soil amendment increase grain yields of barley on a Heavy-Textured alkaline sodic soil in a rainfed Mediterranean environment. Agronomy, 11 (4). Art. 713.

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the adverse effects of soil sodicity and alkalinity on the growth of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) in a rainfed environment in south-western Australia. These conditions cause the accumulation of salt (called ‘transient salinity’) in the root zone, which decreases the solute potential of the soil solution, particularly at the end of the growing season as the soil dries. We hypothesized that two approaches could help overcome this stress: (a) improved micro-water harvesting at the soil surface, which would help maintain soil hydration, decreasing the salinity of the soil solution, and (b) soil amelioration using small amounts of gypsum, elemental sulfur or gypsum plus elemental sulfur, which would ensure greater salt leaching. In our experiments, improved micro-water harvesting was achieved using a tillage technique consisting of exaggerated mounds between furrows and the covering of these mounds with plastic sheeting. The combination of the mounds and the application of a low rate of gypsum in the furrow (50 kg ha−1) increased yields of barley grain by 70% in 2019 and by 57% in 2020, relative to a control treatment with conventional tillage, no plastic sheeting and no amendment. These increases in yield were related to changes in ion concentrations in the soil and to changes in apparent electrical conductivity measured with the EM38

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Sustainable Farming Systems
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: © 2021 The Authors.
United Nations SDGs: Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/60792
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