Fact Sheet #7 – Feb 2004
John Leys, David Roget and Gupta Vadakattu, CSIRO
Fallowing of a paddock for the preparation of a crop is a major land management activity in the Mallee. Fallowing has been used to conserve moisture, mineralise nitrogen, control weeds and prepare the soil for sowing.
Fallow lengths vary from 3 to 12 months, with approximately two thirds of fallows longer than 6 months. Long fallow management varies from full chemical fallow to full mechanical tillage ranging from 0 to12 cultivations (with an average of 3.3 across the Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) Inc. area), when preparing for a wheat crop.
Fallowing has been cited as a major cause of environmental problems because:
• it can reduce the number of growing plants in a paddock, and therefore the amount of deep draining soil water used; and
• it can reduce groundcover and soil aggregation levels to below 50%, which greatly increases the risk of wind erosion in the Mallee.