Water and Nitrogen Management of Sugarcane Grown on Sandy, High-Water-Table Soil
- T. A. Obreza ,
- D. J. Pitts and
- D. L. Anderson
Little information exists regarding water and N fertilizer management for sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) production on Florida's high-water-table sandy soils. We hypothesized that sugar yield and N-use efficiency would be affected by water table depth and N fertilizer application timing. Sugarcane (cv. CP 72-1210) was grown in >1-ha plots for three seasons on Basinger sand (siliceous, hyperthermic Spodic Psammaquent) to determine the effects of water table depth (0.46 vs. 0.57 m), N fertilization frequency (13 vs. 7 split applications for 3 yr, at 224 kg N ha-1 yr-1), and Mg fertilizer rate (0 vs. 60 kg Mg ha-1 yr-1) on cane and sugar yields. Annual mean high- and low-water-table differences were 0.13, 0.11, and 0.10 m, resulting in a 0.2 to 1.4 J kg-1 difference in soil water matric potential at middle of the root zone, and a 0.02 to 0.11 m3 m-3 difference in soil water concentration in the top 0.30 m. Three-year mean yields for low vs. high water table were 73.7 vs. 67.9 t sugarcane ha-1 and 9.23 vs. 8.51 t sugar ha-1. High vs. low N fertilization frequency yielded 75.0 vs. 66.5 t sugarcane ha-1 and 9.41 vs. 8.33 t sugar ha-1. There were no water level × N fertilization frequency interactions. Where mean Mehlich 1 extractable Mg was 25 mg kg-1, Mg fertilization did not affect yield, suggesting that this Mg level should be classified in the unresponsive (“high”) range. Although increasing N fertilization frequency increases the fertilization program cost, its use is justified by increased sugar yield.
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