Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Research Project #431521

Research Project: The Effects of Water-Driven Processes on Sugarcane Production Systems and Associated Ecosystem Services in Louisiana

Location: Sugarcane Research

2018 Annual Report


4. Accomplishments
1. Sugarcane residue improves soil health and water quality while maintaining crop yields. Green-cane harvesting of sugarcane results in large amounts of post-harvest crop residues that must be managed, usually by burning, to sustain subsequent crop yields. However, retaining crop residue increases soil carbon sequestration, reduces erosion, and facilitates nutrient recycling, all of which are noted to improve soil health. Improved water quality is achieved by management practices that reduce soil erosion, and runoff-associated dissolved solids and nutrients including nitrate-nitrogen, ammonium-nitrogen, and soluble phosphorus. While residue management can achieve both of these goals, widespread stakeholder adoption hinges on the effects of crop residue management on sugarcane yields. Therefore, ARS researchers at Houma, Louisianna, participated on research to investigate how sugarcane residue management practices (mulching, sweeping, and burning) affect crop yield, water quality, and sediment/nutrient loading in runoff. Yield and water quality data were collected at five different sugarcane farms in Paincourtville, Duson, and St. Gabriel, LA, over a period from 2013-2017. Conservation residue management resulted in similar runoff and erosion estimates to the burn treatment. Additionally, yields in the conservation treatments (mulching or sweeping) were equal to those where crop residue was burned. Thus, the study demonstrates to stakeholders that residue management options that conserve resources, including carbon and nutrients, also support high yields of cane and sugar.


Review Publications
Webber III, C.L., White Jr, P.M., Spaunhorst, D.J., Petrie, E.C. 2017. Comparative performance of sugarcane bagasse and black polyethylene as mulch for squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) production. Journal of Agricultural Science. 9(11):1-9.

Webber III, C.L., White Jr, P.M., Landrum, D.S., Spaunhorst, D.J., Wayment, D.G. 2017. Sugarcane field residue and bagasse allelopathic impact on vegetable seed germination. Journal of Agricultural Science. 9(11):10-16.

Webber III, C.L., White Jr, P.M., Spaunhorst, D.J., Lima, I.M., Petrie, E.C. 2018. Sugarcane biochar as an amendment for greenhouse growing media for the production of cucurbit seedlings. Agronomy Journal. 10(2):104-115. https://doi.org/10.5539/jas.v10n2p104.

White Jr, P.M., Webber III, C.L. 2017. Green-cane harvested sugarcane crop residue decomposition as a function of temperature, soil moisture, and particle size. Sugar Tech. 20(5):497-508. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12355-017-0579-6.

Selim, H.M., Tubana, B.S., Arceneaux, A., Elrashidi, M.A., Coreil, C.B., White Jr, P.M. 2018. Yield and water quality for different residue managements of sugarcane in Louisiana. Journal of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. 38:1-22.

Webber III, C.L., White Jr, P.M., Landrum, D.S., Spaunhorst, D.J., Wayment, D.G., Dorvil, E.N. 2017. Sugarcane field residue and root allelopathic impact on weed seed germination. Journal of Agricultural Science. 10(1):66-72. https://doi.org/10.5539/jas.v10n1p66.

Webber III, C.L., White Jr, P.M., Gu, M., Spaunhorst, D.J., Lima, I.M., Petrie, E.C. 2018. Sugarcane and pine biochar as amendments for greenhouse growing media for the production of bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) seedlings. Journal of Agricultural Science. 10(4):58-68. https://doi.org/10.5539/jas.v10n4p58.

Webber III, C.L., White Jr, P.M., Spaunhorst, D.J., Wayment, D.G., Landrum, D.S. 2018. Sugarcane crop residue and bagasse allelopathic impact on oat (Avena sative L.), tall morningglory (Ipomoea purpurea L. Roth), and redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus L.) germination. Journal of Agricultural Science. 10(2):15-22. https://doi.org/10.5539/jas.v10n2p15.

White Jr, P.M., Viator, R.P., Webber III, C.L., Eggleston, G. 2018. Potential losses of soil nutrients and energy content on the complete removal of sugarcane leaf material as a biomass feedstock. Sugar Tech. 20(1):40-49. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12355-017-0523-9.