Looking to increase profitability, sugarcane farmers are always after higher yields, higher sucrose content, extended ratoon life and lower operational costs.
That’s why, for more than 30 years, they’ve been switching to drip irrigation.
Sugarcane yields react strongly to temperature, solar radiation and soil conditions.
Now, you can't control temperature or radiation in an open field. But if you’ve got a way to control every drop of water and dose of nutrients going into it – and you can apply both with precise timing – you’ll be able to grow higher and more uniform yields while increasing sucrose content and extending the life of your plantation.
Subsurface drip irrigation goes beneath the soil to deliver water and nutrients straight to the roots of each plant. So you can deliver water and nutrients directly to your crops, on demand.
In addition to increasing your annual yields, having the crop grow with perfect conditions of water and nutrients significantly extends ratoon life, giving you an average of eight to ten ratoons , and reaching in some cases as many as fifteen with high productivity.
Plus SDI fits into any plot, and can be applied to all topographies, field sizes and soil types. So you can maintain optimal soil moisture and nutrient levels, whatever your conditions.
And if you invest in digital controls for your system, you’ll be able to monitor and optimize and irrigate your cane remotely gaining data about every aspect of the field. So wherever you are, you can ensure high, top-quality yields every season, with less labor cost, and make bigger profits.
Why should I choose drip irrigation over other methods?
Because precision irrigation will always give you higher economic returns. Each season you’ll get consistently higher and better yields using minimal resources, while extending the life of your ratoons. And by delivering water and nutrients directly to plant roots, you’ll ensure healthier soil for future years. It’s a secure, long-term crop profitability model that only improves over time.
Should I use surface or subsurface drip irrigation?
Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems are most suitable for large-scale cane field operations. Compared with on-surface systems, SDIs deliver additional benefits such as lower labor requirements, protection from agro-machinery interference, and enhanced water-use efficiency. SDI systems favor modern tillage practices such as no-till or minimum tillage.
On-surface systems are best for small to medium-scale sugarcane growers, or for use on extremely sandy soil plots. They’re also a great option for plots that are deep-tilled. Bear in mind that while they require a lower initial investment, they do carry a higher operational cost.
If I have a lot of rainfall, will drip still be a good investment?
Definitely. While having ample rainfall is obviously a huge advantage, rain is never timely enough to allow the crop to reach its full yield potential. This is even more evident with sandy soils that have a lower water holding capacity. On top of that, drip is also a nutrient delivery system that allows you to fertigate and control the nutrient levels in your soil in a precise and economical way. Applying all of your fertilizer in just a few applications can be wasteful, especially under rainy conditions that provoke leaching. Splitting your nutrient application along the season guarantees that your crop gets what it needs when it needs it. This is what makes drip systems the perfect tool for increasing productivity in previously rain-fed plots.
What if I have an uneven topography or irregularly shaped cane field?
Drip irrigation fits all plot shapes and sizes, all soil types and all topographies. You can use pressure compensating dripperlines that maintain the same flowrate across different pressure levels so every plant in the field gets exactly the same amount of water and nutrients no matter the elevation changes or distance from the water source.
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