Nutrient management guidelines for sugarcane production

Research and development organisation, BSES Ltd has developed “The Six Easy Steps” for the Australian sugar industry. The Six Easy Steps allows farmers to identify the plant nutrient requirements of the particular soils they are farming and apply fertiliser accordingly. The Queensland Government has accepted the Six Easy Steps as the best fertiliser practice available to protect the Great Barrier Reef from nutrient runoff.

Thanks to funding obtained through the federal government’s “Caring for our Country” program, NSW cane farmers will receive training on the Six Easy Steps over the next 12 months. Funds received from the federal government along with input from the NSW Sugar Milling Cooperative and BSES Ltd will allow farmers to better match fertiliser inputs to specific soil types. The project will also benchmark the level of organic carbon in cane soils.

 The booklet brings together all the crop nutrition research done during the project and other local crop nutrition projects plus additional information from Queensland. All fertiliser recommendations now incorporate:

  • Detailed chemical and physical knowledge of 14 soil types identified across the NSW sugar industry.
  • New research on how different NSW soils mineralise nitrogen and sulphur from organic matter.
  • New research on how much nitrogen from soy crops is actually available for the following cane crop (SRDC funded project coordinated by Dr Natalie Moore).
  • Results from fertiliser trials both here and in Qld.

As a result of this project we have been able to fine tune fertiliser recommendations by considering the chemical and physical properties of our 14 major soil types and applying the new information described above. When combined with a soil sample result this approach covers all bases for determining the nutrient requirements for a specific crop on a specific soil. Agricultural Services staff now use this approach for all fertiliser recommendations.

If you’d like a copy of the booklet please pick one up from your local agricultural officer or click here to download from the SRA website.

 The project was jointly funded by the federal government through its Caring for Our Country program, NSWSMC and BSES