|Richard Jr, Edward
Submitted to: Sugar Cane International
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2009
Publication Date: 7/1/2009
Citation: Viator, R.P., Johnson, R.M., Richard Jr, E.P. 2009. Effects of mechanical removal and incorporation of post-harvest residue on ratoon sugarcane yields. Sugar Cane International. 27(4):149-152.
Interpretive Summary: The blanket of leaf litter generated during the harvest of green sugarcane often reduces yields of the subsequent ratoon crop in Louisiana, so studies were conducted to investigate different litter management options. Options evaluated included full retention (no removal), complete removal by burning, mechanical repositioning of the litter from the row-top to the wheel furrow, and removal of the litter from the row top by baling. In conjunction with these options, disking the litter on the row sides and wheel furrow into the soil with a rolling cultivator was evaluated. Burning increased sucrose yields by 1300 kg/ha relative to the average of all other treatments. Mechanical repositioning and baling did not increase sucrose or cane yield relative to full retention because of drainage impediment and damage to below ground buds that produce the subsequent ratoon crop. Mixing the material into the soil did not affect yields. For sugarcane grown on heavy-textured soils in high-rainfall, temperate climates, producers should completely remove residue by burning as soon after harvest as possible to maximize yields in the subsequent ratoon crop.
Technical Abstract: Two studies were conducted to determine the effects of post-harvest residue management in conjunction with incorporation on sugarcane grown on heavy-textured soils in the high rainfall climate of Louisiana. For the first experiment, whole-plots consisted of full retention, complete removal by burning, or mechanical repositioning of the residue from the row-top to the inter-row space using three different implements (modified street sweeper, Orthman Residue Remover®, or the Sunco Trash Tiger®). Split-plots consisted of either incorporation of residue in the inter-row space with a bladed drum device (Lawson Canemaster®) or no incorporation. For the second experiment, treatments consisted of full retention, complete removal by burning, mechanical repositioning of the residue from the row-top to the inter-row space with a modified street sweeper, and removal of the residue from the top 1.0 m of the 1.8 m row by baling. For experiment one, burning increased sucrose and cane yields by 1200 kg/ha and 10.6 Mg/ha, respectively, relative to the average of all other treatments. Incorporation of the residue did not increase yields compared to no incorporation due to inadequate soil-to-residue contact with this particular incorporation method. For experiment two, burning increased sucrose and cane yields by 1300 kg/ha and 12.0 Mg/ha, respectively, relative to the average of all other treatments. For both experiments, none of the mechanical removal options increased sucrose or cane yield relative to full retention. Residue repositioned to the inter-row space prevented adequate drainage causing yield reductions. Baling the residue may have eliminated some of the drainage issues, but yields were not increased relative to full retention, possibly because of physical damage to the crown by the baler. For sugarcane grown on heavy-textured soils in high-rainfall, temperate climates, producers should completely remove residue by burning to maximize yields.