Quantifying the effects of microbial additions to sugarcane soils on crop productivity; final report 2013/069
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Replicated field trials were implemented in four major districts within the Australian sugarcane industry to identify and objectively measure the effects of microbial additions under different sugarcane systems, climatic conditions and soil types that may lead to the positive impacts of sugarcane growth, soil health, and economic benefits. Soil physical characteristics such as Bulk Density and soil moisture percentages were conducted in Mackay and Proserpine sites. There was no data to suggest that the application of these surface applied microbial products had any effect on improving soil compaction nor moisture retention in the soil. There was no consistent data in any of the four regions to suggest that the application of the VRM based products increased the percentage of organic carbon over the trial period. The current data did not suggest a relationship between increase availability of phosphorous (as indicated by BSES-P levels) and the application of a biology product. Biological populations seemed to spike in trials where a carbon source was available. Without this carbon source, biological population changes were not so prominent. In Proserpine where two of the treatments had mill mud applied, bacterial and fungal populations were greater at specific sampling times compared to treatments which did not supply a food source. The Burdekin replicated this observation in the GCTB treatment where the biological addition was applied. Though bacterial and fungal populations seemed to spike at certain sampling times throughout the trials in some regions, this did not lead to any significant increases in yield. There were no significant differences in cane yield in Mackay, Burdekin, or Tully. Interestingly, the standalone biological applied treatment in Proserpine showed significantly lower yield in 2014, however, this was not replicated in 2015. The VRM based microbial addition had no measurable effect on pachymetra populations or nematodes in these trials using this product.