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    Louisiana: Sugarcane Field Day Focuses on Sustainability

    The LSU AgCenter hosted a sugarcane field day at Dugas Farm, Inc. on Oct. 20 in Assumption Parish. The field day was supported by the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation.

    The Taylor Foundation awarded a grant to the LSU AgCenter to fund a four-year research project on reducing nutrient runoff from crop fields. Forty-two event attendees were provided with unique learning opportunities and hands-on demonstrations that highlighted the benefits of the best management practices being researched on this project.

    The primary goal of the field day was to highlight and demonstrate best management practices to improve water quality and soil health, while simultaneously increasing productivity and soil sustainability in sugarcane production.

    Many presentations emphasized the factors that contribute to the sustainability practices of an industry and the responsibility of agriculturalists to make a positive change. Among several presentations and guest speakers, field tours were given of the practices that are currently being tested on small plots.

    Keith Dugas houses the sugarcane model farm operation in Napoleonville and enjoys his role in this project.

    “I get to see firsthand what works and what doesn’t, and I also get to work with a lot of good researchers’ students,” he said. “It is a lot of hard work to collect all of the data, and I appreciate what they are doing and that I get to stand beside them.”

    A variety of topics and management practices were featured at the event.

    “The biggest success I see is the variable rate nitrogen and using the GreenSeeker technology,” Dugas said. “I have been using this technology for two years on my farm and I see great benefits in using it.”

    Due to market fluctuations and availability of resources, the prices of nitrogen are predicted to be high for the upcoming year. When it comes to sustainable stewardship and the farmers’ responsibility, Dugas provided simple, yet informed, advice.

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    “Not every year is going to be a good year,” he said. “I would advise any farmer to try implementing best management practices in their operations because the benefits that I have seen on my farm outweigh the risks. And where sustainability is concerned, the more we can do to preserve our land, the better off we will be.”

    Lisa Fultz, a soil microbiologist with the LSU AgCenter, along with other researchers on this project share a common goal of ensuring a productive and sustainable future of Louisiana agriculture.

    “One of the things that we are trying to do is to take a good measurement of inputs and outputs from the cropping systems and try to reduce the differences,” she said. “We are ultimately trying to make sure that inputs are staying in the field and not overapplied and are not lost, which is financially beneficial.”

    This project has seen many successes, and Fultz is excited about the future of this research.

    “Working with producers and implementing best management practices on large-scale operations is something to look forward to in the next few years,” she said. “The best management practices that we have researched so far provide incredible benefits to the producer and we would love to see producers across the state reap those benefits.”




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