Nutrient Requirements for Sugarcane Production on Florida Muck Soils
eKonomics News Team
The soils of the Everglades Agricultural Area are muck soils that provide unique challenges/opportunities to nutrient management for sugarcane production. These soils are low in mineral content, but high in organic matter – suppling nitrogen and phosphorus through mineralization – with a limestone layer under the organic surface layer. Despite the nutrient-rich organic deposit, no potassium is supplied through organic matter mineralization, therefore fertilizer applications are especially important on these soils to maximize productivity.
In this article, the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Everglades Soil Testing Laboratory in Belle Glade, Florida have the following table of recommendations for growing sugarcane in Florida muck soils. Specifically, phosphorus and potassium applications are needed annually. Phosphorus availability is controlled by soil pH, which could limit plant availability. Even though the cation exchange capacity (CEC) of muck soils can be high, potassium retention on the soil surface can be low and potassium can leach with high water movement. Therefore, high rates of potassium are needed for sugarcane production.