A reference booklet for canegrowers on the nutrition and fertilizing of sugarcane for different soil types
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A wide range of different soils are used for sugarcane production in the Herbert River district. An understanding of these differences both at district and farm levels will ensure that nutrient management reflects this diversity and enables profitable and sustainable sugarcane production. The Australian sugar industry has used a generalised, industry-wide set of fertiliser recommendations with no specific guidelines for different regions, climatic conditions or soil types. This booklet is a first attempt to produce specific management guidelines for all of the different soil types used for sugarcane production in a cane area. Twenty four different soil types have been identified in the sugarcane production area of the Herbert and have been mapped at a scale of 1:5000, which is appropriate for soil-specific management recommendations to be delivered at block level. Growers can currently access soil maps of their farms through Herbert Cane productivity Services Ltd. and plans are in place to provide all growers with the capability of printing their own soil maps. In the booklet each soil type is described in terms of its appearance, where it occurs in the landscape, and its chemical and physical properties. Guidelines for the management of nutrients, tillage, drainage and irrigation and the minimisation of environmental risks are provided for each soil type. These guidelines have been developed using research results from a companion SRDC funded project, BSS232 “Improved nutrient management in the Australian Sugar Industry”. The soil booklet produced in this project is likely to be the first of a number of regional soil management publications that are likely to be produced for the Australian Sugar Industry. The booklet is intended for use by cane growers and their advisers, and where possible the information is presented in as non-technical way as possible. This approach is particularly appropriate for the current situation of the sugar industry with continuing low sugar prices, the need to reduce production costs together with mounting environmental pressures which demand demonstration of responsible soil and nutrient management. The guidelines in this booklet are aimed at providing best practice soil and nutrient management for Herbert growers that will not only maintain or improve crop yields and soil fertility but will also provide opportunities for cost reduction whilst enhancing sustainability and delivering better environmental outcomes.