Managing stubble loads effectively

Fired up: Agriculture Victoria has developed a fact sheet outlining options for stubble management. Photo by Rene Martens

Victorian grain growers are being urged to consider options other than burning to manage heavy stubble loads.

Agriculture Victoria’s Adam Buzza said there was now less burning, less soil cultivation and increased retention of crop stubble, driven by the need to maximise water use and protect soils from erosion.

“Areas where stubble is burnt represent a minority of the total Victorian crop,” Mr Buzza said.

“Most farmers will only burn stubble when absolutely necessary, having considered all available options and the potential implications of burning.

“To help growers and the broader community understand the options farmers have for preparing paddocks for sowing, we have prepared a handy fact sheet on stubble management.

“For the vast majority of Victoria’s cropped paddocks, stubble is left in the paddock to protect soils from erosion and maximise the next crop’s water use.

“Other benefits of retaining stubble include better soil health, less fuel and labour costs and easier harvesting.

“Burning is often used as a last resort to manage heavy stubble loads to enable easier sowing and crop establishment and control weeds and pests.”

The fact sheet covers topics including:

  • alternatives to burning heavy stubble;
  • disadvantages of burning;
  • stubble retention trends in Victoria;
  • benefits of retaining stubble;
  • strategic removal of stubble;
  • timing and temperature of burning;
  • effects of burning on soil nutrients and soil carbon; and
  • protection of native vegetation.

To access the fact sheet, go to:

For more advice, contact your local agronomist or call 136 186 to be put in contact with an Agriculture Victoria officer.