Surface soil acidity and fertility in the eastern Riverina and Western Slopes of southern New South Wales

Brendan J Scott, I.G. Fenton, A.G. Fanning, W.G. Schumann, L.J.C. Castleman

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This study, in southern NSW, examined the chemical properties of about 4700 surface soils in agricultural paddocks and recorded lime and gypsum inputs. The area was bounded approximately by Cootamundra in the north, the NSW/Victorian border in the south, extending to Tumbarumba in the east and to near Berrigan in the west. The long term average annual rainfall ranged from about 420 mm in the west to a maximum of 1175 mm in the east. The data, collected between 1997 and 2003, were for the surface 20 cm of soil, in two 10 cm layers. The data was generated from a soil testing program conducted with farmers in the region. We grouped the soils into 3 zones based on a GPS location taken at the time of sampling. These zones were 1 (lower rainfall mixed farming), 2 (higher rainfall mixed farming) and 3 (long term pasture).Acidic soils occurred across all 3 zones, however the soils in zone 1 appeared to be less acidic than soils in the other two zones. We found that surface soils (0 to 10 cm) with soil pH in 1:5 soil:0.01 M calcium chloride (pHCa)  4.5 represented 27%, 57% and 54% for zones 1, 2 and 3 respectively. In addition, zone 1 had 74% of surface soils with a pHCa  5.0, and this was more acidic than previously reported. However, the surface soils in zone 1 had relatively low exchangeable aluminium (Alex) and had less acidic subsurface soils (10 - 20 cm), so that responses to lime application by pastures and crops may be less frequent or smaller than the surface soil pHCa alone may indicate. There was a higher frequency of acidic soils (pHCa  4.5) in the subsurface soils than in the surface soils in zones 2 (62 cf 57%) and 3 (64 cf 54%), suggesting that the acidity problem at this depth was a major problem. Low pHCa in the subsurface soil is known to be a constraint on crop yield. We found no evidence of the amendment of this soil depth when lime was applied and incorporated into the 0 to 10 cm depth, and economic amendment of acidity in the 10 to 20 cm
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-964
Number of pages16
JournalAnimal Production Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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