Soil-test critical values for wheat (Triticum aestivum) and canola (Brassica napus) in the high-rainfall cropping zone of southern Australia Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Nutrient deficiencies are considered a reason for commercial yields of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and canola (Brassica napus L.) in the high-rainfall zone (HRZ) of southern Australia being well below predicted potential yields. With the aim of developing soil-test interpretation guidelines suitable for HRZ conditions, nutrient-response experiments, 15 with wheat and 12 with canola, were conducted between 2015 and 2018. These experiments quantified responses to nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), sulfur (S), copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) in pre-sowing soil tests. The highest yielding treatment of the wheat experiments averaged 7.1 t/ha (range 2.6–10.8 t/ha), and of the canola experiments 4.2 t/ha (range 0.7–6.2 t/ha). The most frequent responses were to N and P, followed by S and K. There were no significant positive responses to Cu or Zn. Across the experiments, the 95% critical value for Colwell P in wheat was 52 mg/kg, with a 95% confidence range of 39–68 mg/kg. For canola, the critical value was 59 mg/kg, with a range of 38–139 mg/kg. These values are higher than from lower rainfall regions of Australia. Critical values for K and S were also higher than from drier regions of Australia. The Sprengel–Lieberg Law of the Minimum overestimated yield where there were multiple nutrient limitations, whereas an equivalent Law of the Product underestimated yield under these conditions. These higher critical values based on evidence from the HRZ are expected to assist in closing the yield gap for wheat and canola in the region.


  • McCaskill, Malcolm R
  • Riffkin, Penny
  • Pearce, Amanda
  • Christy, Brendan
  • Norton, Rob
  • Speirs, Andrew
  • Clough, Angela
  • Midwood, Jonathan
  • Merry, Angela
  • Suraweera, Dilnee
  • Partington, Debra

publication date

  • 2020