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Water repellence develops when there is an accumulation of hydrophobic organic substances in a susceptible soil. Hydrophobic compounds are derived from plant and microbial sources.
Water repellence results in uneven wetting of soil in autumn which can result in patchy and staggered crop and pasture emergence. Sandy soils are particularly susceptible.
Subsurface compaction is a widespread constraint in Western Australian cropping areas.
Soil compaction is rearrangement of soil particles and reduction in macro-porosity and total pore space by stresses.
Some biological processes can impact on the severity and expression of soil water repellence. Certain soil microbes can degrade and break down the waxes that cause soil water repellence.
Banded wetting agents can make dry furrow sowing of water repellent soils more reliable.
All surface and subsurface soils can be compacted; some more easily than others.
Growing oaten hay on frost-prone paddocks minimises the frost risk as it is cut soon after flowering, avoiding the frost-sensitive period.
Yellow, brown and red deep sands.
Deep ripping mechanically breaks up compacted soil layers, however care must be taken to ensure results are effective.