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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #329521

Research Project: Integrated Crop, Soil, and Water Management Systems for Sustainable Production of Sugarcane for Bioenergy Feedstock

Location: Sugarcane Research

Title: Use of post-harvest/processed sugarcane bagasse as a vegetable mulch

Author
item Webber Iii, Charles
item White, Paul
item Petrie, Eric
item Shrefler, James - Oklahoma State University
item Taylor, Merritt - Oklahoma State University

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/11/2016
Publication Date: 7/31/2016
Citation: Webber III, C.L., White Jr, P.M., Petrie, E.C., Shrefler, J.W., Taylor, M.J. 2016. Use of post-harvest/processed sugarcane bagasse as a vegetable mulch. Advances in Sugar Crop Processing and Conversion Conference, March 15-18, 2016, New Orleans, Louisiana. p. 369-373.

Interpretive Summary: Louisiana processed 12.8 million tons of sugarcane in 2014, producing 1.5 million tons of raw sugar and an estimated 3 million tons of bagasse. Bagasse is the fibrous material remaining after removing the juice from the sugarcane delivered to the mill. Typically, Louisiana sugarcane mills burn a portion of the bagasse to heat boilers to steam power the mill for grinding and sugar processing. The balance of the bagasse is stored at the sugar mill where it accumulates until used for fuel during the next year’s harvest. Sugarcane mill owners, operators, and associated researchers have investigated and employed various uses for the sugarcane bagasse, including pelletizing the bagasse into briquettes. In the spring of 2015, research was conducted to investigate the use of sugarcane bagasse as a natural mulch for vegetable production. The experiment compared sugarcane bagasse mulch, black plastic mulch, and no mulch (control) for suitable mulching treatments for squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) production. The experiment included the 3 mulching treatments, 4 replications, 3 rows/plot, 70 inch row spacing, and 25 ft plot lengths. Following application of the mulches, yellow squash var. ‘Enterprise’ seeds were direct seeded 1.5 ft apart the length of each plot. Squash fruit was harvested three times a week for a total of 19 harvests, June 3 to July 15, 2015. Combining the 19 harvests, the plastic mulch produced a greater number of marketable fruit/acre and fruit/plant, which resulted in a 5 and 9 tons/acre yield advantage compared to the control and the sugarcane bagasse mulch, respectively. There were no differences among the mulching treatments for unmarketable fruit yields (tons/acre, fruit/acre, and fruit/plant). Further research will investigate the impact of mulching treatments on fruit production across the harvest season, as well as evaluating the influence of allelopathy by the sugarcane bagasse on cucurbit growth.

Technical Abstract: Research was conducted in 2015 to investigate the use of sugarcane bagasse as a natural mulch for vegetable production. Louisiana processed 11.6 million mt of sugarcane in 2014, producing 1.36 million mt of raw sugar and an estimated 2.7 million mt of bagasse. Bagasse is the fibrous material remaining after removing the juice from the sugarcane delivered to the mill. Typically, Louisiana sugarcane mills burn a portion of the bagasse to heat boilers to steam power the mill for grinding and sugar processing. The balance of the bagasse is stored at the sugar mill where it accumulates until used for fuel during the next year’s harvest. Sugarcane mill owners, operators, and associated researchers have investigated and employed various uses for the sugarcane bagasse, including pelletizing the bagasse into briquettes. The field experiment compared sugarcane bagasse mulch, black plastic mulch, and no mulch (control) for suitable mulching treatments for squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) production. The experiment included the 3 mulching treatments, 4 replications, 3 rows/plot, 1.8 m row spacing, and 7.6 m plot lengths. Following application of the mulches, yellow squash var. ‘Enterprise’ seeds were direct seeded 45 cm apart the length of each plot. Squash fruit was harvested three times a week for a total of 19 harvests, June 3 to July 15, 2015. Combining the 19 harvests, the plastic mulch produced a greater number of marketable fruit/ha and fruit/plant, which resulted in a 1.8 to 3.3 mt/ha yield advantage compared to the control and the sugarcane bagasse mulch, respectively. There were no significant differences among the mulching treatments for unmarketable fruit yields. Further research will investigate the impact of mulching treatments on fruit production across the harvest seasons, as well as evaluating the influence of allelopathy by the sugarcane bagasse on cucurbit growth.