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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Gypsum and Compost Effects on Sugarcane Root Growth, Yield, and Plant Nutrients

Authors
item Viator, R.P. - N. CAROLINA STATE UNIV.
item Kovar, John
item Hallmark, W.B. - LSU AGRI. CNTR, IBERIA

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 12, 2002
Publication Date: November 15, 2002
Citation: VIATOR, R., KOVAR, J.L., HALLMARK, W. GYPSUM AND COMPOST EFFECTS ON SUGARCANE ROOT GROWTH, YIELD, AND PLANT NUTRIENTS. AGRONOMY JOURNAL. 2002. V. 94(6). P. 1332-1336.

Interpretive Summary: Sugarcane production is a multi-million dollar industry in Louisiana. The crop is grown mainly on heavy-textured soils that offer less than ideal conditions for the growth and function of the root system. Any management practice that improves the soil environment would benefit sugarcane producers. In this study, we evaluated the effect of gypsum and composted municipal waste applications on sugarcane root growth, as well as crop yields and leaf nutrient concentrations. Gypsum mixed into sugarcane rows at 3 rates did not affect root growth or cane and sugar yields. Likewise, both subsoil- and within row-applied compost had little affect on cane or sugar yields compared with where compost was not added. Both gypsum and compost applications maintained leaf nutrient concentrations in the optimum range for the crop. More important, compost application did not increase heavy metal (Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn) concentrations in sugarcane leaf tissue beyond acceptable limits. Hence, our results demonstrate that municipal waste compost can be successfully applied to sugarcane production areas without negative effects on the growth and yield of the crop. Use of composted municipal waste in sugarcane production could be part of the solution to the municipal solid waste problem.

Technical Abstract: Louisiana sugarcane (interspecific hybrids of Saccharum spp.) is produced mainly on heavy-textured soils that offer less than ideal conditions for the growth and function of the root system. The objective of our research was to determine the effect of gypsum and composted municipal waste applications on root growth, crop yields, and leaf nutrient concentrations of sugarcane grown on a Baldwin silty clay loam (fine, montmorillonitic, thermic Vertic Ochraqualfs) soil. Gypsum mixed into the rows at 2.24, 4.48, and 8.96 Mg ha**-1 did not affect root growth or cane and sugar yields. Gypsum did increase Ca, S, and Zn leaf concentrations, but had no effect on N, P, K, Mg, Mn, Cu and Fe concentrations. Likewise, both subsoil- and within row-applied compost at a rate of 44.8 Mg ha**-1 did not affect cane or sugar yields. However, subsoiled and within-row compost increased leaf S concentrations; within-row compost increased leaf K; and subsoiled compost increased leaf Zn, but reduced leaf Mn concentration. Compost application did not increase Cu, Fe, Mn, or Zn concentrations in sugarcane leaf tissue beyond acceptable limits. Within row-applied compost reduced root surface area compared with where compost was not applied, and reduced sugar yields compared to the subsoil compost treatment. This suggests that subsoil application of compost, rather than within-row application, would be the preferred practice for sugarcane grown on this soil. Our results demonstrate that municipal waste compost can be successfully applied to sugarcane grown on a heavy-textured soil without negative effects on the growth and yield of the crop.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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