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Interactions between rotation breaks, tillage and N management on sugarcane grown at Bundaberg and Ingham.

Bell, M.J. and Garside, A.L. and Halpin, N. and Salter, B. and Moody, P.W. and Park, G. (2010) Interactions between rotation breaks, tillage and N management on sugarcane grown at Bundaberg and Ingham. In: Proceedings of the 2010, 32nd Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists, 11-14 May, Bundaberg, Queensland.

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Publisher URL: http://www.assct.com.au

Abstract

The impact of cropping histories (sugarcane, maize and soybean), tillage practices (conventional tillage and direct drill) and fertiliser N in the plant and 1st ratoon (1R) crops of sugarcane were examined in field trials at Bundaberg and Ingham. Average yields at Ingham (Q200) and Bundaberg (Q151) were quite similar in both the plant crop (83 t/ha and 80 t/ha, respectively) and the 1R (89 t/ha v 94 t/ha, respectively), with only minor treatment effects on CCS at each site. Cane yield responses to tillage, break history and N fertiliser varied significantly between sites. There was a 27% yield increase in the plant crop from the soybean fallow at Ingham, with soybeans producing a yield advantage over continuous cane, but there were no clear break effects at Bundaberg - possibly due to a complex of pathogenic nematodes that responded differently to soybeans and maize breaks. There was no carryover benefit of the soybean break into the 1R crop at Ingham, while at Bundaberg the maize break produced a 15% yield advantage over soybeans and continuous cane. The Ingham site recorded positive responses to N fertiliser addition in both the plant (20% yield increase) and 1R (34% yield increase) crops, but there was negligible carryover benefit from plant crop N in the 1R crop, or of a reduced N response after a soybean rotation. By contrast, the Bundaberg site showed no N response in any history in the plant crop, and only a small (5%) yield increase with N applied in the 1R crop. There was again no evidence of a reduced N response in the 1R crop after a soybean fallow. There were no significant effects of tillage on cane yields at either site, although there were some minor interactions between tillage, breaks and N management in the 1R crop at both sites. Crop N contents at Bundaberg were more than 3 times those recorded at Ingham in both the plant and 1R crops, with N concentrations in millable stalk at Ingham suggesting N deficiencies in all treatments. There was negligible additional N recovered in crop biomass from N fertiliser application or soybean residues at the Ingham site. There was additional N recovered in crop biomass in response to N fertiliser and soybean breaks at Bundaberg, but effects were small and fertiliser use efficiencies poor. Loss pathways could not be quantified, but denitrification or losses in runoff were the likely causes at Ingham while leaching predominated at Bundaberg. Results highlight the complexity involved in developing sustainable farming systems for contrasting soil types and climatic conditions. A better understanding of key sugarcane pathogens and their host range, as well as improved capacity to predict in-crop N mineralisation, will be key factors in future improvements to sugarcane farming systems.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Business groups:Agri-Science, Crop and Food Science
Additional Information:© Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ASSCT).
Keywords:Biomass; crop yield; cropping systems; denitrification; fallow; farming systems; growth; nitrogen fertilizers; nutrient deficiencies; rotations; runoff; soyabeans; sugarcane; sustainability; tillage; Queensland.
Subjects:Plant culture > Field crops > Sugar plants
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Fertilisers
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Methods and systems of culture. Cropping systems
Deposited On:29 Nov 2010 04:18
Last Modified:11 Oct 2011 07:02

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