The effect of soil physical properties on growth and yield of sugarcane
The literature reporting the effect of soil physical properties on sugarcane growth and yield has been reviewed and areas for further investigation are suggested. There is conflicting evidence in relation to the number of cultivations and cane yield, with little or no effect in plant cane but a significant interaction with the ratoon crop. The effect of soil compaction on cane growth has also been variable, with little or no effect in some instances and dramatic decreases in others. Overall as bulk density increased, the yield of cane decreased. The compaction effect depends on the soil water content at the time of impact. A major concern in the sugar industry is the trend to larger and heavier equipment and the effect this will have on the soil resource. To reduce the effect of compaction it was suggested that harvesters and haulout equipment be fitted with load sharing, high flotation running gear. When compared with equipment on conventional running gear, again the effect on soil compaction has been variable. It is difficult to isolate any one soil property influencing cane growth and yield. Green cane harvesting with trash blanketing has been introduced to reduce costs and it is hoped to improve soil structure. However, few studies have examined the effect on soil properties. Soil water and temperature are modified by the trash blanket and soil structure has been observed to improve after three years. Long term studies are required to substantiate these trends and resolve problems with insects and pathogens. It is concluded that soil properties do influence cane growth and yield, but further work is required to resolve the inconsistent results of previous workers.