Managing crop stubble during fallow period for soil water conservation: field experiment and modelling

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11 Citations (Scopus)


In the arid and semi-arid environments where the rainfall is limited and variable, fallow period soil moisture conservation using stubble is one of the ways of increasing the soil moisture required for crop sowing and development. However, the effectiveness of moisture conservation using stubble depends on the paddock management, soil water content, and rainfall characteristics. To assess the effect of stubble rate and amount of rainfall on the soil moisture conservation, a two-season field experiment was conducted using four stubble rates (0, 2, 4, 6 t/ha) and two water supply amounts. The soil water dynamics was also analysed using a validated Agricultural Production System Simulator (APSIM). In the relatively wet summer season with a high initial soil water content, the amount of water stored in the 2, 4, and 6 t/ha stubble rate treatment plots was higher than that of the bare plots by 10.4 mm, 15.9 mm, and 17.8 mm, respectively. However, in the summer season with a relatively high amount of rain and low initial soil water content, the soil water storage was increased by 29.4 mm, 35.6 mm, and 43.0 mm, respectively. Comparing the results of the two seasons, the highest increase was observed for the 2 t/ha stubble rate. The amount of conserved soil moisture was found to be the highest when the soil profile water content at the start of the summer-fallow period is low and the amount of rain during the summer season is high. The good agreement between the measured and APSIM simulated soil water contents (R2 = 0.812), indicates that the model can be used to assess the soil water dynamics under a fallow condition. The APSIM simulated soil water balance using the weather data of the past 100 years indicated that in a year with low start-of-fallow period soil water content, a 6 t/ha stubble rate can increase the end-of-fallow period soil moisture by up to 60 %.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3317-3327
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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