Soil and leaf nutrient interactions following application of calcium silicate slag to sugarcane

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems (Impact Factor: 1.42). 09/1991; 30(1):9-18. DOI:10.1007/BF01048822

ABSTRACT In certain areas of the Everglades Agricultural Area, plant and ratoon sugarcane (Saccharum L.) yields are increased by application of Si from calcium silicate slag. The greatest yield responses are obtained in the plant crop the first year after application of slag and when plant uptake of Si is increased. Magnesium deficiencies have been reported after slag application. The objective of this study was to quantify interactions of soil and leaf nutrients on sugarcane grown on a Terra Ceia muck (Euic, hyperthermic Typic Medisaprist) that had previously received calcium silicate slag. Slag was applied at five rates, and yields were evaluated from plant, first-ratoon, and second-ratoon (stubble) crops at two locations. Soil and leaf from each crop were sampled for nutrient analysis and the results were used to interpret the yield data. Although slag increased cane yield by as much as 39% and sugar yield by 50%, for each 100 mg L–1 drop in extractable soil Mg, cane yields declined by 5.3 Mg ha–1 and sugar yields by 0.9 Mg ha–1. At leaf Si concentrations exceeding 10 g kg–1, optimum cane and sugar yields were observed, while leaf Mg concentrations approached critical leaf concentrations below 1.5 g kg–1. Estimates of total leaf nutrient uptake during each crop indicated that uptake of Mg did not meet nutrient demands at high biomass production. Nutrient antagonism between Si and Mg is suggested. Low soil Mg may contribute to the marked crop responses to slag and for the decline in stubble production. Application of a magnesium fertilizer may be necessary to maintain high nutrient availability.

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    ABSTRACT: Sugarcane crop residues ('trash') have the potential to supply nitrogen (N) to crops when they are retained on the soil surface after harvest. Farmers should account for the contribution of this N to crop requirements in order to avoid over-fertilisation. In very wet tropical locations, the climate may increase the rate of trash decomposition as well as the amount of N lost from the soil-plant system due to leaching or denitrification. A field experiment was conducted on Hydrosol and Ferrosol soils in the wet tropics of northern Australia using N-15-labelled trash either applied to the soil surface or incorporated. Labelled urea fertiliser was also applied with unlabelled surface trash. The objective of the experiment was to investigate the contribution of trash to crop N nutrition in wet tropical climates, the timing of N mineralisation from trash, and the retention of trash N in contrasting soils. Less than 6% of the N in trash was recovered in the first crop and the recovery was not affected by trash incorporation. Around 6% of the N in fertiliser was also recovered in the first crop, which was less than previously measured in temperate areas (20-40%). Leaf samples taken at the end of the second crop contined 2-3% of N from trash and fertilizer applied at the beginning of the experiment. Although most N was recovered in the 0-1.5 m soil layer there was some evidence of movement of N below this depth. The results showed that trash supplies N slowly and in small amounts to the succeeding crop in wet tropics sugarcane growing areas regardless of trash placement (on the soil surface or incorporated) or soil type, and so N mineralisation from a single trash blanket is not important for sugarcane production in the wet tropics.
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    ABSTRACT: Silicon (Si) is one of the most abundant elements found in the earth's crust, but is mostly inert and only slightly soluble. Agriculture activity tends to remove large quantities of Si from soil. Sugarcane is known to absorb more Si than any other mineral nutrient, accumulating approximately 380 kg ha of Si, in a 12‐month‐old crop. Sugarcane (plant growth and development) responses to silicon fertilization have been documented in some areas of the world, and applications on commercial fields are routine in certain areas. The reason for this plant response or yield increase is not fully understood, but several mechanisms have been proposed. Some studies indicate that sugarcane yield responses to silicon may be associated with induced resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, such as disease and pest resistance, Al, Mn, and Fe toxicity alleviation, increased P availability, reduced lodging, improved leaf and stalk erectness, freeze resistance, and improvement in plant water economy. This review covers the relationship of silicon to sugarcane crop production, including recommendations on how to best manage silicon in soils and plants, silicon interactions with others elements, and laboratory methodology for determining silicon in the soil, plant and fertilizer. In addition, a future research agenda for silicon in sugarcane is proposed.
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D. L. Anderson