Corangamite Region   'Brown Book'   - How to optimise your soils to enhance productivity
Case Study
Raised beds drain water and boost productivity
Source: Land & Water Australia (2005)

An example of a budget that would help make a decision on whether to adopt raised beds is presented below. For this example budget, the following assumptions are made:
  • the area to be cropped is 900ha
  • one year in four is a wet winter
  • during wet winters, flat land crops yield 30% less than raised bed crops
  • during normal years, flat land crops yield 5% less than raised bed crops
  • the farm operates on a three year rotation of wheat - canola - barley and is currently sown to 300ha of each
  • grain price are wheat $200/t, canola $350/t, barley $170/t
  • average yield increases shown in Table 1

    Table 1 - Typical setup costs for raised beds
    Operation $/ha
    Surveying & paddock layout plans 25
    Cultivation (1-3 times) 50-150
    Bed forming 50
    Graded collector drain 5
    Mounded headlands incl grassed waterways 25
    Total 155-255 (205)

  • The cost of using contractors to set up the system, as calculated in Table 1 is $205/ha. For 900 hectares this comes to $184,500. These setup costs will be amortised (paid back) over a 10 year period at an interest rate of 7%
  • The extra costs associated with modifying machinery are $20,000 and the cost of a consultant is $4,000. Both are amortised over 10 years at 7%.
  • Total amortised costs for 900 hectares is $29,960
  • Allowing for a one in four year penalty from waterlogging of 30% of crops grown on the flat, and a 5% annual difference in favour of raised beds in the other three years

    Table 2 - Estimated annual return from crops grown on raised beds (2005 prices)
    Area & crop Extra yield t/ha x price $ Total annual return $
    300 ha wheat 0.6 x 200 36,000
    300 ha canola 0.3 x 350 31,500
    300 ha barley 0.8 x 170 40,800
    Total 108,300

With a total extra annual return of $108,300 (Table 2) and total annual amortised costs (including interest) of $29,690, for this example the average annual net benefit from the raised beds to the farm business is ($108,300 - $29,690) $78,610 or $87/ha.
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This project is supported by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country

Page Updated: September 2013
Produced by AS Miner Geotechnical