Home      About Us      Events Calendar      Downloads      Contact Us      Global Site      EspaŮol      PortuguÍs
The Leaf
The Inflorescence
The Root System
Germination & Establishment Phase
Tillering Phase
Grand Growth Phase
Ripening & Maturation Phase
Practical Implications
Improved Varieties
Land Preparation
Planting Material
Planting Time
Germination Irrigation
Weed Management
Irrigation Water Management
Earthing Up
Removal of Water Shoots
Harvesting Management
Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms
Pests & Diseases
Home  > Soil Requirement
Soil Requirement

Soil is a medium for plant growth. It provides nutrients, water and anchorage to the growing plants. Maintenance of proper physical, chemical and biological conditions of the soil is necessary for realizing higher growth, yield and quality of sugarcane. Sugarcane does not require any specific type of soil as it can be successfully raised on diverse soil types ranging from sandy soils to clay loams & heavy clays.


A well drained, deep, loamy soil with a bulk density of 1.1 to 1.2 g/cm3 (1.3-1.4 g/cm3 in sandy soils) and total porosity, with an adequate balance between pores of various sizes, is higher than 50%; ground water table below 1.5 to 2.0 m from soil surface and an available water holding capacity of 15% or more (15 cm per meter depth of soil is considered ideal for sugarcane cultivation).


The optimum soil pH is about 6.5 but sugarcane can tolerate considerable degree of soil acidity and alkalinity. Hence, it is found growing in soils with pH in the range of 5 to 8.5. Liming is required if pH is less than 5.0, or gypsum application if pH is more than 9.5. Nematode infestations are likely to occur in very sandy soils.


Soil testing before planting is desirable as it helps in determining the optimum quantity of macro and micro nutrient application. Chemical constraints in the soils, such as acidity and low fertility, are relatively easy to correct or control.


Poor physical conditions like soil compaction due to intense mechanization when limiting, are much more difficult to ameliorate. For this reason, physical properties of soil are given as a factor in sugarcane growth. Based on the experience gained in Brazil, a few criteria to define soils, which are apt for sugarcane growing, were suggested (Table 2).


Table 2. Criteria to Classify the Aptitude of Soils for Growing Sugarcane








Effective depth




Too shallow

Soil texture


Medium to clayey


Too sandy




Too rolling




Medium or low

Too low

Too low



Medium to accentuated

or incomplete


Excessive or deficient

Restraints to





Too strong


to erosion




Too high

Source: Kofeler and Bonzelli (1987)


Management of compacted soils

Problem of sub-surface hard pans or compaction is a common phenomenon in intensive mechanization, more number of ratoons and sugarcane - rice rotation systems.


Effects of Soil Compaction

  • Increases bulk density (Light to medium soils: 1.5 to 1.7 g/m3 and Heavy soils: 1.45 to 1.57 g/m3) and soil penetration resistance
  • Reduction in porosity, infiltration rates, and water storage capacity
  • Impedance to root penetration and proliferation. Shallow root system makes the plant susceptible to drought during dry spells.
  • Reduced nutrient and water uptake
  • Promotes lodging particularly in unusually wet conditions


Ameliorative Practices

  • Deep ploughing, sub-soiling or chiseling up to a depth of 50 - 75 cm at 90 cm
  • Application of organic manures (FYM at 25 tons/ha), growing of green manure crops and turning them into soil
  • Incorporation of gypsum at 5 tons/ha


Management of Acid Soils

Usually acid soils are found in high rainfall areas and in soils where organic matter content is high. Soil acidity adversely affects sugarcane growth, yield and quality. Under acidic conditions, the adverse effects are due to aluminium, iron and manganese toxicity. Aluminium toxicity can cause P deficiency symptoms due to precipitation of alumino-phosphate complexes with in the plant and in the soil. In Australia, Ca deficiency is associated with Al toxicity on acid soils.


In acid soils conditions (pH less than 5.2), Al replaces Ca on cation exchange capacity. Aluminium toxicity may occur on mineral soils when Al occupies greater than 30% of the cation exchange capacity.


In sandy soils having a very low cation exchange capacity, lower concentrations of Al in the soil solution may cause toxicity problems. High applications of K may induce Ca deficiency in acid soil containing low Ca levels (Photo Source: Anderson and Bowen, 1990).


Root growth, tillering, shoot elongation and LAI are severely affected due to the above nutritional disorders thus causing poor cane yield and juice quality.


On acid soils in Brazil, better root development deeper in the soil horizon has been noticed when gypsum is used. Liming is the most important practice in the acid soils to improve productions.


The General Lime Requirements as Follows.

  • Sandy soils 450 - 675 kg/ha every 2 years
  • Clay loams 1800 - 2250 kg/ha every 3 - 4 years
  • Clay soils 2700 - 3600 kg/ha every 4 - 5 years.
  • Bone meal and rock phosphates are well suited to acid soils to supply phosphorous


Management of Soil Salinity and Sodicity

The saline and sodic soils are wide spread in sugarcane growing areas of the world. A soil with electrical conductivity below 2 dS/m, by and large, does not affect the growth appreciably. Sugarcane is moderately sensitive to soil salinity. The decrease in crop yield varies with the level of soil salinity(Photo Source: Anderson and Bowen, 1990).


The decrease in crop yield is 0% at an ECe of 1.7 dS/m, 10% at 3.3, 25% at 6.0, 50% at 10.4 and 100% at an ECe of 18.6 dS/m. Soil salinity also adversely affects sheath moisture content and nitrogen content.


Likewise, SAR more than 20 caused 50% yield reduction. Increase in exchangeable sodium percent from 14.4 to 23.5 lead to reduction in cane (9 - 26%) and sugar yield (12 - 29%) in 10 sugarcane cultivars studied at Karnal, India.


Varieties differ in their responses to soil salinity and acidity. Germination and early growth stages are more sensitive than later stages of crop growth. Ratoon crop is more sensitive to salinity than plant crop.



Symptoms of Soil Salinity and Sodicity

  • Stunted growth and necrotic leaves with scorched tips and margins
  • Poor tillering and root growth
  • Reduction in internodal length and girth of cane
  • Impaired cane quality with reduced juice purities
  • Problems in processing for jaggery and sugar


Ameliorative Measures

  • Growing of slat tolerant varieties
  • Manipulation of soil environment by reclamation and drainage
  • Adoption of drip irrigation to maintain higher soil water potential in the root zone by light and frequent irrigations

Send to a friend Top of Page Printable Version