The Stubble Management Project

The Stubble Management Project

Retaining stubble is generally recognised as the appropriate form of post-harvest stubble management and has several key benefits including improving soil organic matter, preventing soil erosion, and helping to retain moisture. However, the challenge lies in retaining every season and particularly in good seasons with increased stubble density leading to machinery blockages, reduced crop establishment and nitrogen tie-up.

The aim of the Stubble Management Project is to identify successful strategies that optimise the benefits of retaining stubble for crop production, whilst also maintaining adequate soil ground cover to improve soil health.

A total of six demonstration sites will be established across the Northern Agricultural Region and Central Wheatbelt in Western Australia. The trial will comprise of three stubble treatments. The first treatment will act as a control, with stubble left standing.  The second is machinery manipulation of stubble, such as with a stubble cruncher, and the third an application of nitrogen or biostimulant to standing stubble pre-seeding.

By monitoring these three treatments across the six sites we will begin to investigate the impact of simply leaving stubble standing against machinery manipulation or nitrogen application on key factor such as:

  • Stubble breakdown
  • Nutrient availability
  • Ground cover
  • Weeds
  • Nitrogen tie-up
  • Crop growth & yield

Commencement: 2021 | Completion: 2024

Funding body(s): Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program
Project Lead Organisation: The West Midlands Group
Collaborators: Corrigin Farm Improvement Group

Who is involved?

Three demonstration sites have been set up in the West Midlands region including properties in Hill River, Dandaragan and Yathroo, with another three sites established by the Corrigin Farm Improvement Group in the Central Wheatbelt region.

Latest Updates

  • Investigating Stubble Strategies – Is Burning the Answer?
    Burning stubble may seem like a quick fix, but what are the hidden costs? The Stubble Management Project found retaining stubble offered no yield penalty while potentially boosting soil health and reducing input needs.
  • Stubble Management Project – 2023 Seasonal Update
    No significant differences in biomass production or crop yield were recorded across stubble management treatments in the 2023 season of the Stubble Management Project. Learn more about the 2023 results and 2024 season in this technical project update.
  • October sampling rush before harvest
    Every August and September at WMG there is a big focus for our big marquee events like the Spring Field Day and Student Crop Walk. Now that the events have wrapped up for the year, my focus moves over to final project sampling for 2023. Project site are spread across the region, ranging from Hill River and Badgingarra to Barberton and Gillingarra.

Useful resources & information

Want to get involved?

Get in touch with our Mixed Farming Systems Officer, Melanie Dixon.

Mobile: 0459 353 840