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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #313921

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

Location: Sugarcane Research

Title: Sugarcane soil fertility research: New data and current recommendations

item Johnson, Richard
item VIATOR, HOWARD - LSU Agcenter
item TUBANA, BRENDA - LSU Agcenter
item GRAVOIS, KENNETH - LSU Agcenter

Submitted to: American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/27/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: If sugar and cane yields are to be optimized and profitability improved, it is critical that a sugarcane crop receive the proper levels of plant nutrients. Potassium (K) has been associated with plant water use and may aid in drought tolerance and disease resistance, phosphorus (P) is important for plant root growth and helps plants transfer and store energy and sulfur (S) is important in chlorophyll production and photosynthesis and may help plants use nitrogen more efficiently. However, in recent years the high cost of fertilizers has forced many Louisiana sugarcane producers to eliminate some of these important nutrients from their soil fertility programs. In 2014, we initiated four K fertility studies, four P fertility trials and two S trials in plant-cane fields of HoCP 96-540 and L 01-299 in an attempt to demonstrate the agronomic benefits of these nutrients. Soil samples were collected prior to fertilizer application and all of the sites selected for these studies tested medium, low or very low for the nutrient in question. Five K rates were applied to each field ranging from 0 to 160 lbs K2O/A, five P rates from 0 to 75 lbs P¬2O5/A, and five S rates from 0 to 80 lbs S/A. Potassium and P trials were conducted on both light (silt loam) and heavy (clay) soils. Plots were harvested with a chopper harvester and weigh wagon equipped with a billet-sampler to collect samples for juice quality analysis. In potassium trials, in plant-cane L01-299, a trend showed an increase in cane and sugar yields in both light and heavy soils with applied K, although it was not significant (P=0.05). The trend was more pronounced in heavy soils. In plant-cane HoCP 96-540, trends (not significant P=0.05) were also observed showing increases in both cane and sugar yield with applied K for both light and heavy soils. In phosphorus trials, in plant-cane HoCP 96-540, a trend (not significant at P=0.05) showed an increase in cane and sugar yields in a light soil test, while in a heavy soil test a trend was not obtained. In plant-cane L01-299, trends showing increases in cane and sugar yields were obtained in both light and heavy soils. The trend was significant (P=0.1) for cane yields in the heavy soil test. Finally, in sulfur trials, in both plant-cane HoCP 96-540 and L 01-299, increases in cane and sugar yield were observed with applied S with the larger increases observed with L01-299. The observed differences were not significant for either variety. Soil samples will be collected from all K, P and S trials to determine residual nutrient levels. Results from these studies suggest that increases can be achieved with potassium, phosphorus and sulfur fertilizer application in two of the major Louisiana sugarcane varieties. Louisiana sugarcane producers that have eliminated these nutrients soil fertility programs may experience decreases in their cane and sugar yields as the levels fall to limiting levels.