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FAQ - Soils and theirmanagement

FAQ - Soils and Their Management

  1. What is the ideal type of soil for sugarcane?
  2. A well-drained loamy soil with neutral soil reaction (pH 6.5 to 7.5) and adequate nutrients and without soil compaction is considered an ideal soil for sugarcane production. The soil should be loose and friable with a minimum depth of 45 cm without any harmful salts and nutrient deficiency.

  3. What are the general soil requirements for sugarcane?
  4. Culivation techniques are largely determined by the physical properties of the soil. In loamy soils with stable and crumb structure, preparation of the land for planning sugarcane cultivation would be relatively easier, limited to normal ploughing and formation of ridges and furrows at the required spacing

    Where the soils are hard due to clayey structure, more elaborate preparatory cultivation practices like deep-ploughing or chiseling would be necessary before formation of furrows. Sugarcane has the potential for deep rooting to over 5 metres and the crop growing in deep soils have appreciable drought tolerance. The soil should have a bulk density below 1.4 mg/m3 and porosity of about 50% which at field capacity would be occupied by air and water in almost equal proportions. In soils with bulk density more than 1.5 mg/m3, there would be difficulties for the growth and spread of roots.

    The soil mass should have rapid surface infiltration rates and free internal drainage so that rain or irrigation water can be readily absorbed and any excess water can drain away rapidly. Ideally, the ground water-table should be at not less than 1.5 to 2.0 m depth below the surface. A higher water-table will lead to impeded drainage creating anaerobic conditions which would adversly affect the roots. Sugarcane loves moist soils but can not withstand water stagnation. When soil conditions are not in optimum conditions, more skilled soil management practices would have to be adopted. Sugarcane can be grown in very coase as well as very clayey soils with suitable management practices.

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  1. What is the effect of salinity on sugarcane?
  2. Salinity causes reduction and delay in sprouting of sugarcane crop leading to gaps, reduced NMC and yield. It causes burning of tips of young leaves and edges of older leaves. In extreme cases, the spindle dries up exhibiting a burnt appearance. It retards stem elongation, root development and tillering resulting in poor yield and juice quality. The canes harvested from salted soils are withered and pithy. Normally sugarcane crop stand is poor in salt affected soils with slick or barren spots in the field. Yield losses of over 40% have been recorded in some susceptible varieties as compared to less than 20% in tolerant types. However, genotypes like Co 95003, Co 93005, Co 97008, Co 85019, Co 99004, Co 2001-13 grow luxuriantly even in saline soils.

  3. How will you reclaim saline soils?
  4. Reclamation of the saline soils involves leaching of excess soluble salts. It is also important to avoid further accumulation of salts. For reclamation of saline soils, the field is to be leveled first and divided into small plots of about 1000 m2 by providing bunds. Drainage channels of 75 cm depth are provided all-around the field. The field is irrigated copiously with good quality water and stagnated for two to three days so that the salts in the soils get dissolved. Then the salts are removed by draining the water through drainage channels (vertical drainage) so that the salts are removed from soil profile at least to a depth of 75 cm. This leaching process has to be repeated till the soil is free of harmful salts. Leaching and drainage can be improved by applying huge quantities of organic manure and mechanical treatments like deep ploughing, sub-soiling, sanding and profile inversion. In the sugarcane field for every 6-10 rows one drainage channel has to be provided for draining excess salt and water.

  5. What are the salinity tolerant varieties?
  6. Some of the salinity tolerant varieties are: Co 85019, Co 94012, Co 95003, Co 93005, Co 94008, Co 99004, Co 97008, Co 2000-10, Co 2001-13, Co 2001-15 and Co 97001.

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  1. What are the management practices to be followed for growing sugarcane in saline soil?
  2. An integrated approach involving the following measures needs to be employed to manage sugarcane under salinity for better productivity.

    Seed rate: Higher seed rate (25% more) is recommended to compensate germination loss and to ensure adequate crop stand.

    Trench planting: Modified trench system of planting in saline soils and salt water irrigated areas recorded improved yields of around 15%.

    Use of organic manure: Organic manures viz., pressmud (10-15t/ha), farmyard manure (25t/ha), bio-earth etc., improve the availability of essential nutrients (Zn, Fe, Ca, Mg and Mn). In calcareous soil, the organic manures reduce the soil pH, electrical conductivity and exchangeable sodium per cent, rendering the soil more suitable for growing sugarcane.

    Amendments: With increase in soil pH the requirement of gypsum also increases. However, for most soils gypsum at 3-6t/ha would be sufficient.

    Irrigation with good quality water: During critical growth stages (up to 150 days of crop age) irrigation with good quality water is beneficial.

    Green Manures: Growing green manure inter-crop and in situ incorporation of green manure is highly beneficial as it improves productivity in salt affected soils.

    Nutrient management: An additional dose of 25% nitrogen has been found to improve yields under saline conditions. Application of nitrogen and potassium fertilizers through pocket manuring is advantageous and helps in improving yield significantly.

    Crop rotation: Crop rotation with tolerant crops like cotton, mustard etc improves the soil health and sustainability.

    Tolerant varieties: Growing salt tolerant varieties

More FAQ.....

  1. What is the amendment used to reclaim alkali or sodic soils?
  2. Physical condition of sodic soil is to be improved by addition of large amount of organic manure in addition to chemical amendments to replace sodium by calcium in the exchange complex and to remove carbonate and bicarbonate with sulphate. Generally gypsum, sulphur, pyrites and pressmud are recommended as amendments. Gypsum is the most effective and cheap amendment. The recommended quantity of powdered gypsum (2.5 to 12.5 t/ha depending upon soil pH, ESP and soil buffering capacity) is to be applied to the soil by broadcasting, irrigated with good quality water and ploughed thoroughly so that the reaction takes place effectively.

  3. What is the amendment used to reclaim acid soils?
  4. Lime or calcium carbonate can be applied to reclaim acid soils. Dolamite (calcium magnecium carbonate) can also be used for this purpose

  5. How will you overcome soil compaction and hard pans in sugarcane production?
  6. The soil compaction and hard pans in heavy textured soils, could be overcome by:
    1. Application of heavy dose of organic manure
    2. Deep ploughing or chiseling
    3. All the tillage operations must be carried out at optimum soil moisture.

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