Understanding the impacts of waterlogging

27 May 2021

Grain industry advisors and analysts in the high rainfall zone (HRZ) are set to benefit from new research into the impacts of waterlogging.

Many parts of southern Australia, and particularly the HRZ, suffer regular waterlogging which significantly reduces crop production.

Agriculture Victoria Senior Research Scientist Dr Fiona Robertson is leading a research project to better understand potential waterlogging impacts on crops and better predict these impacts using simulation models.

Dr Robertson said financial losses due to waterlogging have been estimated at $180 million and waterlogging can result in 50 per cent yield loss for some growers in some years.

“Mitigation strategies for waterlogging such as crop selection, drainage, subsoil amelioration and raised beds have been applied in the past with varying success but these are not suitable for many situations.

“Waterlogging is also highly variable in space and time, and impact on growth and yield for various crops is poorly understood, which makes it difficult to predict where mitigation options should be considered,” she said.

The completion of the project will enable scientists and industry analysts and advisors to use models or model-based tools to assess waterlogging impacts on crops.

Dr Robertson said modelling can be a useful tool to extrapolate the results of field experiments to other locations. However, the ability of crop simulation models to predict waterlogging and its effects on crop growth and yield has not been widely tested in Australia.

“In this project we are aiming to address the lack of data and to improve confidence in model predictions for waterlogged conditions; we will be using the HRZ of southern Victoria as a focus.”

Responses to waterlogging in wheat and faba bean will be compared in the field using the managed environment facility at Hamilton, where different timings of waterlogging will be imposed.

By 2022, the results from this project will improve our ability to predict waterlogging and its impacts on wheat and faba bean crops in southern Australia.

The project is part of the Victorian Grains Innovation Partnership between the Victorian Government and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), which aims to increase the profitability of southern grain growers through world-class research.

For more information on techniques to reduce waterlogging visit the GRDC website.

Media contact: Tess Vallance, 0437 223 276