Effective use of lower mill mud rates in the nutrition program
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In 2011 Mackay Sugar changed its mud truck fleet to enable low rates of banded mill mud and mud/ash application on farm. The aim of this was to: make mill by-products available to more growers, lessen the impact of Reef Regulations by introducing an applicator capable of applying mud at rates < 100 t/ha and increase the distance mud is transported away from the mill. MT Catherine Cooperative (a farmer group in the Wagoora district of Mackay Sugar) set about answering some of the agronomic unknowns associated with this new practice. Replicated trials (fallow plant and first ratoon) were established in 2011 to determine if one application per crop cycle of mill mud banded on the row: would provide enough phosphorus for the crop cycle, needed to be incorporated to ensure early phosphorus access by plant cane and could improve runoff water quality in ratoons relative to traditional application.