Surface soil acidity and fertility in the central-western wheatbelt of New South Wales

Catherine Evans, B.J. Scott

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Documentation of the chemical fertility status of the soils is sparse for the western and central-western wheatbelt of New South Wales, Australia. We examined properties of the surface soils (0-10 cm) from central-western NSW by collating 2 published and 9 unpublished data sets of soil analyses representing about 2800 soil samples. The emphasis was on the red soils used extensively for cropping. The surface soils of central-western NSW have low phosphorus (47% of soils) and sulfur (70% of soils < 5 mg S/kg using KCl-40 analysis) status and commonly have organic carbon of about 1%. Surface soil acidity was a substantial problem with 56% of soils (0-10 cm) having a pHCa < 5.0. Sodic and dispersive soils are also of concern in this area and these soils have received little attention or research. Approximately 5% of surface (0-10 cm) soils had an exchangeable sodium percentage of  6% (sodic). Salinity of surface soils was of minor significance compared with other soil problems in the area although isolated areas occur. These results indicated that lime applications in this area are likely to benefit crop and pasture production. Additional use of phosphorus and sulfur fertilisers and agricultural practices which increase or maintain organic carbon will also need to be adopted to improve pasture and crop production. The use of gypsum and/or lime on sodic soils may also need to be addressed. As a priority we suggest the benefits of lime application to crop yield be examined. The application of lime to the 0-10 cm soil should ultimately arrest acidification of the subsurface soil (10-20 cm depth) through downward movement of the lime effect. Further examination of gypsum applications to dispersive sodic soils and the evaluation of sulfur deficiency in the field for pastures and canola are also priority areas of likely agricultural relevance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-197
Number of pages14
JournalAnimal Production Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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