Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Research Project #419460

Research Project: New Crop and Soil Management Systems to Improve Sugarcane Production Efficiency

Location: Sugarcane Research

Project Number: 6052-12210-002-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2013
End Date: Sep 30, 2018

Objective 1: Develop soil management systems that overcome limitations in soil and nutrient resources and maximize production efficiency. Sub-objective 1.A. Determine the potassium and phosphorus requirements for new varieties on both silt loam and heavy-clay soils. Sub-objective 1.B. Develop practices for the application of phosphorus and potassium that are more accurate and cost effective. Objective 2: Develop crop production practices to increase management flexibility, reduce input costs, and maximize profits. Sub-objective 2.A. Develop mechanized planting methods that increase management flexibility and reduce input costs. Sub-objective 2.B. Develop management systems to replace post-harvest burning of crop residues. Sub-objective 2.C. Develop techniques to estimate yields prior to harvest and maximize production efficiency. Sub-objective 2.D. Identify clones that have increased ratooning ability on heavy-clay soils.

To address the first objective, a series of experiments will be initiated to investigate the response of sugarcane to variations in macro-nutrients. Results from these experiments will be used to identify critical fertility components and to optimize fertility rates for sucrose production. Initial macro-nutrient experiments will focus on potassium (K), and phosphorus (P), two critical components of a sugarcane fertility program whose costs have risen dramatically. In addition, experiments will be conducted on commercial farms to investigate the utility of electrical conductivity (EC) and soil pH mapping, zone sampling, and variable-rate (VR) application techniques to optimize nutrient availability. All treatments will be arranged in randomized complete block design (RCBD) with six replications. To address the second objective, studies will be initiated to investigate new mechanized planting methods and to develop new management systems that can replace burning of post-harvest crop residues. In addition, studies will be implemented to screen basic and commercial germplasm for tolerance to post-harvest residue retention and for increased ratooning ability on heavy-clay soils. Finally, scientist will investigate the utility of a newly designed yield monitor and multi-band satellite imagery as potential indicators of cane biomass levels and sucrose content.