With last year’s crush complete and fertilising and spraying becoming a distant memory, planting will be soon upon us again. Under the current reef protection regulations soil tests need to be taken within 12 months of a new crop cycle. We are currently collecting soil samples and would be more than happy to collect samples from your paddocks prior to planting this year. Give your local Pursehouse Rural branch a call to organise a time to get these done.
The samples coming back from the lab so far this year are showing not only the normal requirements for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur but the need for calcium (lime). The use of high rates of nitrogenous fertiliser in sugarcane is contributing to soil acidification and to counteract this we need to apply calcium (lime) on a regular basis or as your soil test indicates. Applying lime will not only neutralise acidic soils or raise the soil PH but will supply calcium to your plant which is essential for the growth and development of your cane plant. Calcium is also important and plays a major role in nutrient use efficiency.
High aluminium is also common in certain areas of the Proserpine region. Whilst sugarcane is supposed to have good tolerance to high soil aluminium levels, the levels that are coming back will be pruning the root system of your plant, preventing the roots from finding the nutrients and water a growing plant needs. This is also a reason to be applying calcium (lime).
Calcium deficiency is normally addressed by using agricultural lime or a derivative of. At Pursehouse Rural we have been using a product called QA Lime. It is a micronized lime 80% being less than 10 micron in size, meaning it is readily available and doesn’t need to be broken down over time to become available like ag lime. We apply it with a tow and fert machine at rates typically up to 90% less than ag lime and would look at applying it prior to planting and again on the 2nd or 3rd ratoons.
By Craig Henson
Branch Manager and Agronomist – Pursehouse Rural Proserpine