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Lime for cereals on acid soils in northern New South Wales

A. D. Doylea and J. Bradleyb

bAgricultural Research Centre, Tamworth, N.S.W. 2340. Biological & Chemical Research Institute, Rydalmere, N.S.W. 2116.

It has been known for some time that wheat and barley grow poorly on some acid sandy soils of the Pilliga Scrub, though more recently it has been shown that triticale and some oat cultivars will grow. The introduction of lupins and hence legume nitrogen, to these infertile soils (1) has made cereal growing a proposition.


A factorial split-plot (lime x cereals) experiment (with lime as main plots) was set up near Binnaway with lime broadcast and cultivated in on 6th February, 1981. The soil was a coarse sand (90-120 cm deep) overlying decomposing sandstone, as follows:

The site had frown lupins the previous year. Fertilizer applied at seeding was 52 kg ha N as urea (applied between the drill rows) and 18 kg ha P as double superphosphate.

Results and Discussion

Table 1. Effect of lime rate on grain yield in 1981 and on pH of surface soil three and nine months after application.

There was a dry autumn, and hence lime had little effect on surface soil pH by seeding. However, by late November surface pH had increased substantially with increasing lime application.

The acid sensitive-crops (wheat and barley) gave very large percentage grain yield increases with lime application. However, even at the highest lime rate their yield was below that of oats and triticale with no lime. It is also of note that oats and triticale gave absolute yield responses to lime similar to those of barley and wheat.

Economics of lime application will depend on residual effects, and these will be monitored for a number of years, as will changes in p11.

1. Doyle, A. D. and Herridge, D. F. (1980). Inter.Congress on Dryland Farming. Adelaide (In press).

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