Improved Stubble & Soil Management Practices for Sustainable Farming Systems in the Liebe Area

Using computer and phone system to measure soil moisture

Commencement Date: June 2009
Completion Date: December 2012

Liebe Group members have identified that a greater understanding of soil and stubble management practices on soil water and plant development is required to increase crop resilience through extended winter dry periods and to increase flexibility in the farming system. Greater utilisation of rainfall is important whether it be through conservation of summer rainfall, maximising infiltration rates and/or reducing subsoil constraints to give crops better access to stored moisture. The GRDC has invested with the Liebe Group to conduct a research, development and extension project exploring the implications of soil management decisions on productivity. A project committee including growers, industry representatives and researchers has been formed to determine the direction of this three year project and provide technical advice.

The project has three main aims:

  1. Increase knowledge of the implications of stubble management on soil water.
  2. Provide increased information about soil amelioration practices (lime/gypsum/deep ripping).
  3. Increase knowledge of the long term effects of soil biology on crop production.


Stubble management trial

The Liebe Group will work with CSIRO and local growers to investigate the effects of stubble management on soil water dynamics. This will involve the establishment of a new long term trial which will measure soil moisture continually throughout the season using below ground moisture probes. These probes will help monitor plant water use throughout the season and determine the value of out of season rainfall. This trial is expected to quantify differences in stored soil moisture between management practices including stubble burning, full stubble retention, stubble grazing, weed control and fallow.

Soil biology

In collaboration with the University of Western Australia, the Liebe Group’s long term soil biology trial measures the implications of increasing soil organic matter and organic carbon on soil health and ultimately crop productivity. The trial is a wheat, wheat, lupin rotation which commenced in 2003.

Soil amelioration

The project will explore methods of improving soil condition through amelioration techniques including liming, addition of gypsum, deep ripping and spading non-wetting soils.


Case studies, trial reports, management guidelines and a stubble management forum will be the main communication activities developed to extend the finding of this project.


The project will conduct a baseline analysis of current practice and past research into these fields to assist with the evaluation of the project. At the conclusion of the project, a series of grower interviews will be conducted to monitor changes in grower practices over the life of the project. These interviews will align with work conducted in the previous Liebe Group GRDC Adoption Project.  2012 Survey results are here!

Project Updates

2010 Trial reports

2011 Trial reports

2012 Trial reports

Grower case studies


YouTube videos

Other publications


 Survey results & evaluation reports


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