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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Research Project #435392

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

Location: Sugarcane Research

Project Number: 6052-12210-003-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2018
End Date: Oct 31, 2019

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

Approach:
To address the first objective, a series of experiments will be initiated to investigate the response of sugarcane to variations in macro- and micro-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. Micro-nutrient experiments will focus on boron, molybdenum, copper, nickel, and cobalt. There is a critical lack of research data for these nutrients in Louisiana and these studies will help to fill this void. 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. Finally, scientists will investigate the utility of a newly designed yield monitor and multiband aerial imagery collected with unmanned aerial systems as potential indicators of cane biomass levels and sucrose content.