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Pit planting can help in higher sugarcane yield

M.J. Prabu

New cultivation method catching on; 10 ratoon harvest possible


MODEL FARMER: Mr I. Varatharajan, a sugarcane grower of Somenahalli village in Dharmapuri district, Tamil Nadu inspecting his farm. He obtains a yield of more than 300 tonnes a hectare, almost double the normal yield under the conventional system of row - row method of planting— M.J. Prabu

Chennai , Nov. 13

A new method of sugarcane cultivation, called pit method or ring pit method, which is cost-effective and at the same time helps farmers get a higher yield is slowly catching on.

Several farm trials have proved that by adopting this method, the yield can be increased to two or three times compared to the normal row-to-row planting technique.

Best farmer

Mr I. Varatharajan, a farmer in Somenahalli village of Dharmapuri district, Tamil Nadu, has got a yield of over 300 tonnes in a hectare by following this method.

Mr Varatharajan was awarded the best farmer award by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore for getting the highest yield in sugarcane under pit method.

Under the conventional system, the setts are grown in rows of 90 cm spacing and are arranged in a series without adequate spacing. The germinated setts are very thin in appearance and ultimately affect the number of canes in each setts and its development.

In pit method, the crops are raised in pits at the spacing of 180 cm between rows and 150 cm between individual pits in a row.

According to Mr. Varatharajan,the pits are dug using specially designed tractor drawn power tillers. The pits are then filled with top soil, 5 kg of farmyard manure (FYM), 100 gms gypsum and 125 gms super phosphate and watered well before planting.

Treatment

About 16 double budded or 32 single budded setts were used for planting. The setts were collected from the eight-month-old plants and were treated with 0.1 per cent carbendazim for 10 minutes before planting. About 60,000 double budded setts were required for planting in one hectare.The pits were irrigated daily for an hour through drip fertigation.

"About 80 gms of urea and 30 gms of potash were applied once in five days starting from the 15th day after planting. Detrashing was done on fifth month after planting and the plants were tied without lodging by dried leaves, said Mr Varatharajan.

Vigorous growth

The growth of the crop was vigorous and they matured at the eighth month after planting.

Due to the equal spacing maintained on all the sides the plants grew steadily and the nutrition supplied through drip fertigation reduced the crop duration.

The continuous supply of nutrition and spacing induces the early physiological maturity that was the major benefit the farmer.

All the shoots are of the same age, so there is uniform growth and sugar accumulation in the canes.

Sufficient space between the clumps and row to row allows sufficient light and air circulation, which is important for good growth of the crop.

The most important factor was that the sugarcane setts were placed at a depth, which were always moist, hence, in case of drought, or non-availability of water the yield was not affected.

INCOME

IMr Varatharajan has spent about Rs 1,30,000 per hectare and has earned about Rs 2 lakh as net income in his first harvest.

"Under the conventional system, farmers in Tamil Nadu are at present harvesting about 130 tonnes a hectare which yields a net income of about Rs 1,43,000. In ratoon harvests, they may get a yield of 320 to 350 tonnes.

"But under pit method one can expect to harvest nearly 10 ratoon crops with a yield of about 60-70 tonnes during every ratoon harvest compared to the conventional method where only one or two ratoon harvest is possible," said Mr Varatharajan.

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