Focus Paddocks Project – profitable crop and pasture sequencing

Page last updated: Thursday, 28 March 2019 - 7:46am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Focus Paddocks project assisted growers to make sound decisions to obtain a better return on their investment for break crops in their rotation. The project undertook a five year assessment from 2010-2014, of individual paddocks and the decisions made by growers to build a knowledge base to help manage the current uncertainty of break crops.


The Focus Paddocks project aimed to improve the true value of the break crop, determine the real dollar value and obtain more profitable farm businesses throughout the region.


The links between break crops (lupin, canola, pulses, improved pasture) and improved wheat yields are well known. The benefits are understood by those that use break crops in the rotation. What is their real dollar value? Are you able to put a figure on it? are just a few questions the project is looking to answer.

Observing the trends at the time of the project one could wonder if there really was a positive dollar value in break crops. The trend over the last ten years (prior to the project) was more wheat and less break crops. The areas and tonnages of break crops has decreased significantly since 2000, with the exception of canola in the last three seasons (prior to the project). Wheat on wheat cropping was the predominant rotation.

The Focus Paddocks project (Putting the Focus on Profitable Break Crop and Pasture Sequences in WA) was designed to help with provision of consistent and reliable information regarding break crops and pastures.


The project operated throughout the wheatbelt. Sampling took place on 66 properties, from 188 paddocks, throughout the wheatbelt. The project was affiliated with eight farming groups. These included Fitzgerald Biosphere Group, Liebe Group, Facey Group, West Midlands Group, North Stirlings Pallinup Nature Resource Group, Yuna Farm Improvement Group, Holt Rock Group and Mingenew Irwin Group. It was hoped that these linkages generated discussion and learning across the state about your Focus Paddocks. The wheat on wheat rotation has problems with weeds and disease. Are greater problems still to come? Perhaps recent advances in wheat agronomy and production technologies are performing the functions of a break crop more cheaply and effectively.


Sampling included soil characterisation to a depth of 1 metre, soil pogos for nutrient and disease analysis, weed counts as well as plant leaf and root disease analysis. To add value to the physical paddock data are a series of grower interviews. These will help to understand the decisions made in each of the paddocks. By knowing the reasons for the decisions we were able to provide tailored information to assist growers to get the best from their crop, be it cereal or otherwise.


Table 1 Support tools
Crop sequence calculator
Table 2 Paddock monitoring results 2014 and 2015
Focus Paddock Report 2015
Focus paddocks 2014 trial report
Table 3 Ground Cover articles
Legumes, pastures break ryegrass cycle
Five-year focus puts WA cropping in the picture
WA’s frontline weapon for weeds
WA Focus Paddocks aim to boost crop sequence success
Table 4 Media releases
Green light on focus paddocks
Further trifluralin resistance confirmed
Root diseases on the rise for grain growers
Get the most out of your fertiliser dollar by addressing soil acidity
2015 WA Agribusiness Crop Updates - WA grains production shifting: Focus paddock survey
Crop rotations prove profitable in medium rainfall area
Table 5 Crop Update papers, power point, video
Crop and pasture sequences sustain wheat productivity; Findings from a five year survey of 184 paddocks
Rhizoctonia and crown rot status of Western Australian paddocks can be managed with crop rotation
Farmer attitudes to break crops 2008 to 2014: what has changed?
A new tool for calculating the carbon footprint of WA farms
Economics of crop rotations in medium rainfall WA
Enhancing the sustainability of the Western Australia cropping system by using soil and plant testing combined with nutrient balance calculations
Focus paddock project soil survey results of south-western Australia
Profitable paddock rotations: Is the choice of break crop costing you money?
Comparing different crop and pasture sequences
Break crops being sown onto unsuitable soils, unsuspectingly
A Traffic Light System (TLS) for comparing constraints affecting grain yield in wheat
Crop and pasture sequences sustain wheat productivity. Findings from a five year survey of 184 paddocks.
How risky is your rotation?
Rhizoctonia and crown rot status of Western Australian paddocks can be managed with crop rotation
Table 6 Research papers
Crop-sequence effects on productivity in a wheat-based cropping system at Wongan Hills, Western Australia
Dynamic crop sequencing in Western Australian cropping systems
Crop sequences in Western Australia: what are they and are they sustainable? Findings of a four-year survey
Predicting cereal root disease in Western Australia using soil DNA and environmental parameters
Success of diagnostic approach to rainfed, wheat-based cropping systems in Western Australia


Wayne Parker