Developing conservation agricultural innovations and practice change: A model for future research, development, extension and training in a brave new world

Deirdre Lemerle, Iain Hume, Toni Nugent, Vaughan Higgins, Caroline Love, Deborah Slinger, Raylene Brown, Mark Harris, Tony Pratt, James Mwendwa, Russell Ford, Megan Beveridge

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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Incorporating crop residues (stubble) after harvest and adding soil nutrients (fertiliser) is thought to increase soil carbon. However, this has not been quantified over a range of soil types, climates and farming systems. The impact of this practice on grain yield and soil carbon in broad acre cropping was tested in a large collaborative project undertaken by a consortium of farming systems and grower groups, extension personnel and researchers. The project: 1. gauged growers’ attitudes to the benefits of stubble management and carbon farming; 2. determined the need for, and provided training in soil carbon and biology; and 3. conducted a field experiment to measure the impact of stubble incorporation and nutrient addition on soil carbon and grain yield at 14 sites from the eastern wheat-belt central NSW to south-west Victoria. Most growers were sceptical of stubble incorporation as a technique for sequestering carbon but recognised the need to quantify benefits and costs. Integration of stubble incorporation must provide financial returns and flexibility in farming systems. Growers were keen to undertake broad training in soil biology rather than focusing on soil carbon alone. The field experiment had variable success and identified the needs of such an ambitious approach to research. These are: clear experimental protocols, careful site selection, excellent communication, sufficient resources, and the clear definition of the roles and responsibilities of partners. We identify both the benefits and problems of a collaborative consortium. The engaged partners are keen to further develop this model for future collaboration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication17th Proceedings of the Australian Agronomy Conference
EditorsTina Acuna, Matthew Harrison, Carina Moeller, David Parsons
Place of PublicationHobart, Tasmania
PublisherAustralian Society for Agronomy
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event17th Australian Agronomy Conference - Wrest Point Convention Centre , Hobart, Australia
Duration: 20 Sep 201524 Sep 2015


Conference17th Australian Agronomy Conference
Abbreviated titleBuilding Productive, Diverse and Sustainable Landscapes
Internet address


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