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|Title:||Quantifying and Maximising the Benefits of Crops After Rice|
Smith, D. J
Bhuiyan, A. M
Fawcett, B. J
|Series/Report no.:||Program 1|
|Abstract:||At the time this project was conceived, rising watertables and subsequent salinisation were considered to be the major threats to the sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the rice growing areas of southern NSW. The biggest threat to sustainability at present is the reduced availability and higher cost of water as a result of the water reforms, and more recently prolonged drought. The hypothesis of this project was that growing crops immediately after rice would increase water use efficiency and profitability of rice-based cropping systems while reducing net recharge. Field experiments were conducted from 1998 to 2000 on two soil types to evaluate the effect of non-irrigated wheat after rice on watertables and net recharge. Rainfall during the wheat season was reasonably similar in all 3 years (270-318 mm) and higher than average (220 mm). Yield and biomass production of early sown (24 April) wheat were higher than yield of late wheat (29 June) (grain yield 4.7 vs 3.8 t/ha at 12% moisture). In the absence of irrigation, the soil profile remained wet in fallow areas, whereas there was considerable drying in areas planted to wheat. The drying created capacity in the soil profile to capture and use winter rainfall. There was a general increase in depth to the watertable during the first half of the season where non-irrigated wheat was grown after rice, but not in the fallow areas. However, in all situations, the watertable rose around the time of rice sowing each year due to a rise in the regional groundwater level. The lumped water balance studies suggested net discharge of about 1 ML/ha between the time of sowing and harvesting wheat after rice in each of the three years, mostly due to higher upflow due to crop water use. In the fallow, net discharge/recharge was close to zero. The CERES Wheat and SWAGMAN® Destiny models performed very well in simulating a wide range of crop and soil water parameters, although the validation data sets were limited in that the yield range was smaller than desirable. Consistent with the field studies, yield of nonirrigated early sown wheat (median 3.8 t/ha) was usually much higher than yield of late sown wheat (median 1.8 t/ha). With one or two irrigations yields of both early and late sown wheat almost always increased, by around 1 t/ha with one irrigation at heading, and an additional 0.5 t/ha with a second irrigation during grain filling. It was only with frequent irrigation (whenever cumulative ETo-rain since the previous irrigation reached 60 mm) that yields of late sown wheat matched (or surpassed) yields of early sown wheat. However, the irrigation requirement for late wheat irrigated at ETo-rain 60 mm was almost always much higher than for early wheat with the same irrigation management (by >100 mm in most years). While irrigation increased yield, it also increased net recharge, with final watertables generally higher by 0.5 to 0.8 m for wheat after rice (wet initial soil) with irrigation at ETo-rain 60 mm compared with no irrigation. The model simulations showed that with wheat after rice, there was net discharge in almost all years, regardless of initial watertable depth (0.5-1.5 m). In comparison, net recharge occurred in 18 to 48% of years with fallow after rice, the amount of recharge increase as initial depth to the watertable increased. For non-irrigated wheat after rice, salinity of the watertable was 2 important where the watertable was shallow (0.5 m), with yield reductions in excess of 1 t/ha in most years. However for deeper watertables, there was no effect of watertable salinity for non-irrigated wheat. With irrigation, watertable salinity had no impact on yields. Growing wheat immediately after rice was financially beneficial, with an increase in Net Present Value (NPV) ranging from 31 to 126 $/ha/yr depending on the rotation. Assuming that the rate of adoption is doubled over 20 years as a result of the project, the NPV of benefits was estimated to be $5.6 million compared with costs of $1.1 million, resulting in a benefit cost ratio of 5.3.|
|ISBN:||1 876903 21 X|
|Type of Work:||Other|
|Appears in Collections:||Research Papers|
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