This programme develops models and better management practices to sustain and enhance sugarcane production within the following broad areas:
Research in this Key Area focuses on the gathering of crop physiological data and the use thereof to facilitate modelling, with a view to:
- Assessing the potential resource requirements (water and nitrogen) for high biomass cultivars with potential future bio-energy applications;
- Developing tools to assist Commercial Breeding under current and predicted future climatic conditions; and
- Refining the accuracy of crop yield forecasting. The resources and technologies developed will ultimately enhance the quest for improved efficiencies in Commercial Breeding.
Research in this Key Area focuses on the development of knowledge, technologies and resources to further enhance the accuracy of fertiliser recommendations to the grower community, including:
- Accurate quantification of soil and leaf nutrient concentrations and the determination of improved leaf nutrient threshold values;
- Assessment of potential differences in variety nutrient requirements;
- Assessment of the efficacy of various sources of nutrients, fertiliser formulations and application rates; and
- Development of soil sampling guidelines and protocols.
Research in this Key Area focuses on the development of knowledge, technologies and resources to enable the maintenance of, and where necessary, the restoration of soil health. In progress are studies to develop:
- A Soil Health Index that will facilitate grower decision-making regarding the potential requirement for ameliorative measures or alternative practices;
- Guidelines for the amelioration of top and sub-surface soil acidity, which is complemented by a series of trials to demonstrate the efficacy and practicality of recommendations; and
- An understanding of the factors that may contribute to the low level of root development and soil penetration that has been observed in various areas of the industry.
Research in this Key Performance Area focuses on the development of knowledge, technologies and resources to enable effective and beneficial Crop Residue Management practices in the industry.
Particular emphasis is placed on the determination of variety responses to the retention of a crop residue blanket, so that specific recommendations to growers may be formulated.
Research in this Key Area focuses on the development of knowledge, technologies and resources to enable and demonstrate effective sugarcane chemical ripening practices in the industry. Under development are technologies and models that will assist the grower community with chemical ripening decision-making.
Research in this Key Area focuses on co-ordinated knowledge generation and model development to enable efficient irrigation and the optimal use of available water. In progress is the development of a model (decision support tool) that will facilitate grower decision-making with regard to irrigation scheduling during periods of heightened water scarcity.
The resources and technologies developed in this Key Area strongly complement the research outcomes in the ‘Water Management’ Key Area of the Systems Design and Optimisation Programme.
Research in this Key Area focuses on the assessment of potential impacts of climate change on the industry and exploration of ways in which field management might be modified to adapt to the projected changed climate.
Understanding how soil acidity related processes affect management practices used in sugarcane: A review
Development of near and mid infra-red spectral libraries for rapid, routine diagnostics and analysis of soil fertility and salinity and plant nutritional status for local and foreign sugarcane growers
Ripener x varieties evaluation project
Burning and mulching project
Modelling world-wide GXE interaction (ICSM Project)
Field calibration of the resin soil P tests for irrigated areas
Development of aerial imagery methodology to inform crop stress and high throughput phenotyping (HTP)
Optimal harvest ages for different production regions
Interactive effects of elevated CO2 and water deficit on sugarcane nutrition, water use and yield – an experimental and crop modelling study (NWU Contract: Dr Jacques Berner)