John (Mac) Muscat Trial Progress

Region: Mackay

Who: John (Mac) Muscat

Location: Mackay

Staggered nitrogen rate application to mitigate crop lodging and CCS reduction on high yield potential soils

A number of growers producing sugarcane on highly productive well drained soils have expressed disappointment in relatively low crop yields and disappointing CCS figures under well-managed, supplementary irrigated farming systems. Nitrogen (N) rate trials conducted during the MOSES and Action on the Ground projects showed that achieving high yields with mill average CCS on productive irrigated soils can be compromised through crop lodging particularly when N rates exceed 6ES guidelines. Case studies indicate that reducing N rates below 6ES guidelines on productive well drained, irrigated soils can reduce lodging with improved CCS levels.

Growers are reluctant to reduce N rates as a management practice due to concerns with potential ‘mining ‘of N in the organic pool. This experiment will test the potential of alternating N rates (6ES and a lower N rate) in consecutive years over the ratoon cycle to maintain the N in the organic pool while managing crop lodging and improving CCS. A number of growers farming these highly productive soils tend to apply N at above 6ES rates in an attempt to optimise the on the yield potential of these soils.