To remediate areas that have poor soakage
The purpose of this investigation is to look at the potential for mapping soakage problems throughout Sugarcane and exploring potential remediation options to enhance soakage throughout the paddock. Due to many factors including pure water sources, the Burdekin Delta soils have limited soakage potential which can often cause yield restrictions. Water is unable to infiltrate into the hill and root zone and often leaves the plant unable to access fertiliser and the roots expending a large amount of energy to access water for growth.
A paddock that has water penetration issues will often water very quickly and application volumes when calculated are low. Cane that is affected can be identified by poor growth and lack of stool, as well as being slow to ratoon (Sugar Research Australia, Irrigation of Sugarcane Manual). It has been found that there are many ways to remediate soils that have limited water penetration. These include amending irrigation techniques, such as the height, width and shape of the hills along with reducing the inflow rates of the water applied. Where possible, reduce the amount of slope on the paddock to ensure that where issues are occurring the slope is less the 0.125%. Adding organic materials such as mill mud, rice hulls, or trash from cane harvest into the soil can also be a short term solution. Adding a calcium product will greatly improve the water penetration issues by providing a salt to the soil which will enable it to open up and act as a more friable soil that will allow infiltration. The product used will be dependent upon the pH of the soil but both lime and Gypsum will have an effect. Lastly the quality of the irrigation water can be improved by adding salt to the water, or mixing it with a more salty source of water (Sugar Research Australia, Irrigation of Sugarcane Manual).