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Sugar Cane

In terms of global production, sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum L.) is the world’s primary sugar crop. Current production stands at 1450 million tons of cane from 22 million hectares worldwide. Brazil and India are the world's major sugar cane producing countries, accounting for nearly 60% of the global production.

In addition to its presence within the food industry, this crop is gaining enormous significance in the biofuel industry. Brazil, for example, uses 48% of its sugar cane production to produce ethanol, while the remainder is used for sugar production. In Asia, countries such as India, China, Thailand, Philippines and Pakistan have already drawn up ambitious plans to use sugar cane as a biofuel crop for ethanol production. Such a production will meet fuel mixture requirements such as E10 - where 10% of the fuel is ethanol and 90% is gasoline, among other fuel requirements (E5, E7, etc.).

Sugar cane is grown in more than a hundred countries under temperate, subtropical and tropical conditions. The sugar cane is basically a crop of tropical climates, with yields affected significantly by temperature, relative humidity and solar radiation. The optimum mean daily temperature range is 14 to 35°C. Likewise, relative humidity ranging between 55 – 85% at grand growth period favors stalk development. The optimal solar radiation requirement is 18 – 36 MJ/m2 (Total annual: 6350 MJ/m2). Stalk growth increases when daylight is in the range of 10 – 14 hours. Sugar cane can be grouped into three varieties: early, mid-late and late. Varieties resistant to several pests and diseases have also been developed in major sugar cane growing regions across the subtropical and tropical world.

Sugar cane requires a well-drained, well-aerated, porous soil with pH of 6.5. Compacted soils (> 1.6 to 1.7 g/cm3) affect root penetration, water and nutrient uptake. The crop is moderately sensitive to soil salinity. The planting pattern is dual or paired row and spacing adopted (1.4m + 0.4m) is 0.15m under drip irrigated conditions, while sowing depth is generally 10cm. The crop is grown by vegetative propagation and requires 40,000 two-bud1 or 30,000 three-bud setts2 per hectare in order to maintain a desired millable stalk population target of 130,000/ha.

The implementation of drip irrigation and fertigation in sugar cane has proved to be technically feasible and economically viable. In many diverse agro-ecological situations, drip irrigation registered higher yields (50 to 90 tons/ha), conservation of water (30 to 45%) and fertilizers (25 to 30%). Furthermore, drip irrigation accounts for the improvement in sucrose content compared to conventional furrow, overhead, dragline and center pivot sprinkler irrigation methods.

In Africa, under Swaziland conditions, subsurface drip irrigated sugar cane grown on 6715 ha for nine years (plant crop + 8 ratoon3 seasons), registered an average cane yield of 107 to 126 tons/ha and pol4 of 15.6 to 18.2 tons/ha. While the sucrose increase was 1.6 tons/ha/year, the accompanying results, in comparison to a dragline sprinkler system, were as follows: power conservation 4.6 kVA/ha/year, operations & maintenance conservation 140 USD/ha/year, water conservation 150mm/ha/year and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 29%.

For high yields, the seasonal crop water requirements for sugar cane crop were estimated at between 1100 to 1500 mm/ha under a range of climatic conditions and varying lengths of growing seasons (12 – 14 months), with a daily evapotranspiration rate of 4 to 7 mm/day. Using tensiometers in irrigation scheduling (25 – 60 centibars at different crop developmental stages) enables the efficient use of water, fertilizers and energy inputs.

Sugar cane is a heavy feeder of nutrients. Its root system is shallow and fibrous, therefore, fertigation is recommended for higher nutrient availability and use efficiency. The aim of the fertigation program is to bridge the gap between crop demand and supply. The nutrient requirements of drip irrigated sugar cane are relatively high: 250 to 300 kg/ha N, 80 to 100 kg/ha P2O5, 125 to 250 kg K2O per ha. The amounts of nutrients removed by sugar cane plants per ton of cane yield are as follows: 0.7 – 1.2 kg N, 0.4 – 0.8 kg P2O5, 1.8 – 2.5 kg K2O. Best management practices include earthing up, de trashing, propping, protection of crop from pests and diseases, need based weed management, crop logging, harvesting and post harvesting operations to minimize sugar losses.

1 A bud is a developing part of a plant that will grow into a flower, new leaf or stem.
2 A sett is a piece of cane stalk that contains roots and buds. When roots develop, they anchor the sett and provide food for the germination of the buds from which the cane stalk grows. In this way the stool is created and new roots develop.
3 A ratoon is the cane that grows from buds remaining in the stubble left in the ground after a crop has been harvested. One plant usually grows three to four ratoon crops.
4 A pol (polarisation) is a measure of the sucrose content of sugar. Sugar with 98 pol (or 98 degrees pol) contains about 98% sucrose.

Netafim Sugarcane Knowledge Leader
Mr. Yoram Krontal (M.Sc. Agr) is the agronomist in charge of energy crops in the Energy Division at Netafim. He has previously worked as an agronomist in charge of sugarcane for a period of two years (since 2006). Yoram had developed his expertise in sugarcane through his work as an agronomist at Netafim Brazil over a six-year period (2001–2006).

Yoram has developed a software program called "Fertinet" to be used as an interface management tool for fertilization and irrigation purposes in drip irrigation systems. He was involved in the development of an automated system for the injection of lime (CaOH2) through drip systems in order to enhance pH in acid soils. Furthermore, Yoram took part in the development of an irrigation interface for plantations that do not have an adequate quantity of water for irrigation.

Research and Academic Background
As many agronomists at Netafim, Yoram is involved in research, including a series of experiments in sugarcane and in citrus fruits with research institutions both in Brazil and in Israel. Yoram has written, in conjunction with research fellows, six academic articles. In 1998, Yoram completed his Masters Degree in agriculture in the department of field crops, vegetables and genetics at the Faculty of Agriculture, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His Bachelor's Degree from the same academic institution was completed in the department of plant protection.

Australia: Benefits of sub-surface application of nitrogen and water to drip irrigated sugarcane

A summary of an article by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO(1) is Australia's national science research agency) and CRC(2) for Sustainable Sugar Production
Courtesy of Netafim University

Thorburn P., Biggs J., Bristow K., Horan H. & Huth N., Townsville, Queensland, Australia

The Australian sugar industry is located mainly along the north eastern coastline in close proximity to environmentally sensitive areas such as the Great Barrier Reef and regional cities, thereby making it hazardous to environmental quality. For this reason the efficiency of water and fertilizer application is of particular importance. During the 1990’s the area of drip irrigated sugarcane quadrupled, from about 1000 to 4000 hectares, yet it was still less than 2% of the total area of irrigated sugarcane. So far most stress has been given to irrigation application efficiency and little to nutrient, especially nitrogen, application efficiency.
N application rate could probably be reduced by 25 to 50% by using subsurface drip irrigation compared to conventional management.

In the present study an agricultural production simulation model (APSIM) was modified and its performance assessed relative to experimental results, and then applied to assess the long-term effect of subsurface fertigation.

The experimental sugarcane crop (var. Q124) against which the model was assessed was planted in September. Irrigation was applied daily through drip-line buried at 0.3 m depth. N (urea) was applied at five different rates (from 0 to 240 kg/ha) on ratoon crops and 75% of this rate on the plant crop. For one of the treatments fertilizer was also applied conventionally. Ten years of cropping (17 crop cycles) were simulated.

The model over predicted the absolute sugarcane yield as yield under actual field conditions depends not only on irrigation and fertilization but on other factors as well (e.g. harvest losses, pest damage, poor aeration, lodging). However, relative yields to the yield under zero N were similar in both experiment and simulation. Thus the modified model can be used to examine the response of sugarcane to the application of N by subsurface fertigation over long periods of time. Furthermore, N was more efficient when applied through subsurface drip than conventionally. Over the 17 crop cycles there was 10 to 40% saving of N when applied by fertigation. The simulation conducted in this study suggests the benefit of subsurface fertigation is either a saving in N fertilizer for similar yield or an increase in yield for similar N input. The choice of alternative depends on economics and production system.

This ten-year study shows that subsurface drip fertigation is the method of choice for sugarcane irrigation when water and fertilizer application efficiency is critical either for environmental protection or for resource conservation.

(1) CSIRO is Australia's national science research agency
(2) CRC was established in 1995 under the Cooperative Research Centers Program of the Australian Government and officially ended its term of operation in 2003

Geographic terms: Australia, Queensland

India: Drip irrigation and fertigation for sugarcane in deep black soils

Summary of a paper presented at the American Society of Agricultural Engineering, Annual International Meeting, 2002
Courtesy of Netafim University

Vaishnava, V.G., Digrase, L.N., Shelke, D.K. & Bharambe, P.R., Marathwada
Agricultural University, Parbhani, Maharashtra, India

Sugarcane is an important cash crop in India. Gravity irrigation is the prevalent irrigation method. The objective of the present study was to determine crop response to various quantities of water and fertilizer applied by drip irrigation.

An experiment was conducted at the Marathwada Agricultural University in Parbhani, Maharashtra, central India. Sugarcane variety CO- 7714 was planted on February 6th. Irrigation was based on computed crop ETc (pan evaporation x crop coefficient). There were three drip irrigation treatments by four fertilizer levels and a control treatment irrigated by the conventional method of irrigation and fertilization. The ETc values used changed progressively during the 350 days season from 0.6 to 1.2 every 40 to 100 days. Fertilizer was applied through the drip line (fertigation) in quantities ranging from 100 (also by surface application) to 60 % of the recommended dose of 250 kg N + 115 kg P2O5 + 115 Kg K2O/ha. There was one drip lateral per sugarcane row.

The highest mean cane yield (180.0 t/ha) was obtained under seasonal application of 1955 mm irrigation water by drip with the highest ETc of 1.2 used from 161 to 250 P2O5. The control treatment received a total of 2466 mm irrigation water and the yield was 86.9 t/ha. Accordingly, the water use efficiency (WUE) was 92.0 and 35.2 kg/ha-mm, respectively. There was no difference in yield between the treatment where fertilizer was applied through the soil and irrigation by drip (164.8 t/ha) as compared to when applied by fertigation (168.3 t/ha). The highest yield (182.8 t/ha) and fertilizer use efficiency (FUE, 476 kg yield/kg fertilizer) were obtained when fertilizer application was 80 % of the maximum. The control treatment had the lowest FUE of 343.

The experiment shows that using drip for the irrigation of sugarcane resulted in double the cane yield, compared to gravity irrigation with 21 % less water. This resulted is 2.6 fold increase in water use efficiency (WUE). Thus, drip irrigation was a substantially better method than gravity irrigation resulting in large yield increase and at the same time in water saving.

Geographic terms: India, Maharashtra

Sugar Cane Success Story, Philippines

Sugarcane, Philippines

The Philippines is a sugar-producing country, growing it mainly on the islands of Negros, Luzon, Panay and Mindanao. Recently, the Philippine government passed the Biofuel Act of 2006 (or Republic Act 9367) which created a certain market for ethanol investors in the Philippines and paved the way for the development of a new industry: fuel ethanol production. Sugarcane is expected to be the predominant source of feedstock for ethanol production. Commercial production of ethanol from sugarcane will help the country diversify its fuel portfolio and ensure its energy security.

Presently, sugarcane farmers produce an average of only 65 tons of cane/ha potentially yielding only 70 liters (18.5 gallons) or 4550 liters/ha/year (145 gallons/ha/year) of ethanol per metric ton using sugarcane as feedstock. This ratio is very low when compared to the potential cane yields (120 to 150 tons/ha) achieved in Brazil, India, South Africa and other regions growing sugarcane with drip irrigation and fertigation. Therefore, new and innovative sustainable technologies are needed, not only to raise and sustain sugarcane productivity per hectare, but also to enable the consistent supply of feedstock to bio-refineries at lower costs and to meet domestic sugar demands. As both the food and energy industries use scarce and expensive resources such as water and fertilizers, a solution is required to ensure a more competitive position, especially within the global market.


  • Food and agro-industrial crop
  • Climatic change and water scarcity concerns
  • Rising fertilizer and labor costs
  • Leaching and washing away of nutrients by runoff
  • Low water and fertilizer use efficiency
  • Low cane productivity/ha
  • Favorable bio fuel policy

Why is drip needed?

  • Economic importance of sugarcane in meeting sugar and fuel ethanol demands and to generate employment.
  • To conserve water, increase water and fertilizer use efficiency.
  • To optimize cane yields.

Sugar mill name

San Carlos Bio Energy Incorporated

Farm details
Location: San Carlos Bio Energy Incorporated, Hacienda vasconia, brgy. Palampas (09° 30' 0" N-latitude, 122° 40' 0" E-longitude), San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, Philippines
  • Area: 7.2 ha
  • Crop varieties: 88-39, 84524, 87599
  • Crop spacing: Row to row – 1.5 m and plant to plant – 0.15 m
  • Seed rate: 50000 number of three-bud setts/ha
  • Plant population at harvest: 130,000 millable canes/ha
  • Crop season: Sowing March 28, 2007 & April 3, 2007
  • Equatorial humid climate with dry winter, frost free
  • Maximum temperature: 32.9°C
  • Minimum temperature: 24.2°C
  • Mean vapor pressure: 29 hPa
  • Mean wind speed: 3.7 km/hour
  • Rainfall: 2608 mm/year; effective rainfall: 1278 mm/year
  • Reference crop evapotranspiration: 1478 mm/year
  • Moisture availability index: 1.76
Soil physical properties
  • Clayey soil texture
  • Soil pH: 6.6
  • Bulk density: 1.3 g/cm3
  • Water table: below 6 m
  • Soil chemical properties: N (0.05%), P (6 mg/kg), K (0.4 meq/100 soil), Ca (39.0 meq/100 soil), Na (0.5 meq/100 soil)
  • Soil salinity (ECe): 0.45 dS/m

Agro-solution: What has been done?

Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) system
Head control unit, main and sub-main pipes besides Drip Net PC integral drip line 16 mm diameter, with a lateral spacing of 1.5 m, emitter spacing of 0.5 m and emitter flow rate 1.0 Liters/hour.
Each crop row was irrigated with one dripline installed at 0.3 m below the soil.

Year of drip system installation: 200

Agronomic and technical support

Crop water requirement and irrigation scheduling: Depth and frequency of water application; water quality consideration, measurement of applied water

Fertigation scheduling: Soil and water analysis, estimation of nutrient dose, selection of fertilizers and compatibility, application skill via drip system and foliar diagnosis for nutrient deficiency

System operation and maintenance: Pressure reading and maintenance, valves operation, measurement of applied water. Cleaning of filters, fertilizer tank, acid treatment, chlorination, etc.

Training and capacity building: Soil water plant relationships, drip irrigation and fertigation principles, benefits, limitations and utility; water quality and herbicide usage.


Improved cane yield: Conventional overhead sprinkler irrigation - 70.0 tons/ha and with subsurface drip yield increased by 90% (133.5 tons/ha).
Other benefits: Savings in fuel expenses, uniform intermodal length, higher cane diameter, improvement in fertilizer use efficiency, management flexibility, less weed growth, uniform irrigation of sugarcane on undulated terrains
Economic indices: Higher net returns by subsurface drip (919 US$/ha) in comparison to overhead sprinkler irrigation.
Improved cane quality: Increase in sucrose content by 5.2% in comparison to overhead sprinkler irrigation.
Water requirement and saving: Conventional overhead sprinkler irrigation – 13000 m3/ha (1300 mm/ha) and with subsurface drip – 3000 m3/ha (300 mm/ha).
The water saving by drip over center pivot sprinkler is 70%
or 10000 m3/year/ha. As an illustration, the saved water can irrigate 3.3 ha.

Drip irrigation of sugarcane in Philippines is a feasible eco-technological and economically viable technology.
Sustainable use of scarce water resources in sugarcane cultivation in order to bring a larger area under cane cultivation near the sugar mill.
Higher productivity and sucrose content, food security and increased income for farmers.
Farmers and ethanol bio-refineries are willing to expand drip irrigation to remaining cane areas. Approximately 217 ha of the sugarcane area is being brought under subsurface drip irrigation during 2008.
Sugarcane best management practices: Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) and fertigation scheduling.

Grow More   90% cane yield
With Less     Water conservation 70%

Date and Venue

This crop-oriented program is for demonstration purposes only. However, it may be revised to suit any date or any venue around the world.


In terms of global production, sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) is the world’s primary sugar crop. Current production stands at 1450 million tons of cane from 22 million hectares worldwide. Brazil and India are the world's major sugarcane producing countries, accounting for nearly 60% of the global production.

In addition to its presence within the food industry, this crop is gaining enormous significance in the bio fuel industry. Brazil, for example, uses 48% of its sugarcane production to produce ethanol, while the remainder is used for sugar production. In Asia, countries such as India, China, Thailand, Philippines and Pakistan have already drawn up ambitious plans to use sugarcane as a bio fuel crop for ethanol production.

Drip irrigation, invented by Netafim in 1965, is an acknowledged modern technique for achieving high efficiencies in water and nutrient use under an up-to-date sustainable agriculture.

The drip system is specifically designed to enable sugarcane growers to use existing infrastructure; water sources and pumps. Drip system provides fast return on investment, reduces energy cost on pumping and provides a modern maintenance and management system.

Proven sugarcane field experiments, conducted in cooperation with Netafim in Brazil, India and other relevant countries, revealed that drip irrigation improved plant water relations, nutrient uptake and thus to higher economic returns.

At Netafim we are committed to share our know-how and that's why we have created Netafim University. We aim to bring you our profound global and local experience as we believe that "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” (Benjamin Franklin)

This crop seminar provides you with more knowledge and less open questions in order to plan to Grow More With Less.

Seminar objectives

Upon completion of this seminar, participants will:

Understand the benefits of drip irrigation for sugarcane growers be familiar with the "Netafim solution" for sugarcane growers. Recognize the economical benefits of Netafim's approach, highlighting efficient crop fertilization, uniformity of water usage, increase in tuber yield per hectare and decrease of environmental damage.Identify the first steps required in order to acquire additional information about drip irrigation.


Who is this seminar targeting?

Farmers who grow sugarcane in the region.

Content supervision

Mr. Yoram Krontal, Sugarcane Knowledge Leader, Netafim.

Lecturers and presenters

  1. Netafim guest expert
  2. Local Netafim representative
  3. Local dealer representative
  4. Local sugarcane grower (host of venue)


Sugarcane field



Registration & cost

Participation in the seminar is free of charge.

The number of participants is limited. Please register in advance.

Transportation arrangements

According to location and needs of the participants.

Learning techniques & resources

  • Frontal lectures using audiovisual equipment, when possible.
  • Hard copy of the key presentations will be distributed on-site.
  • Access to Netafim glossary.


8:30 – 9:00 Gathering and registration
9:00 – 9:15 Greetings by your hosts
9:15 – 9:45 Think globally, act economically!
Global changes and their effect on sugarcane. It's not only about the price per hectare.
9:45 – 10:45 What happens when sugarcane meet drip irrigation?
The benefits of drip irrigation to sugarcane growers in comparison to traditional irrigation,
The main components of the Netafim solution for sugarcane growers.
10:45 – 11:00 Questions & Answers
11:00 – 11:15 Break. Light snacks will be served
11:15 – 11:45 Sugarcane success story brought to you by a local grower or regional dealer
11:45 – 12:15 What’s in it for me? Economical decision-making when considering drip irrigation
12:15 – 13:00 Presentation of a drip system by familiarizing with few of its components in order to comply with the following saying: "Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.”
Confucius, Chinese philosopher and teacher (551-479 BC)
13:00 – 13:30 Seminar conclusion, practical advice and tips for the road.
Feedback forms

Sugar Cane Best Practices

Agro-ecological situation

Conditions: Temperate, tropical and subtropical; long warm growing season, with high incidence of solar radiation and adequate moisture; a fairly dry, sunny and cool, but frost free season for ripening and harvesting; freedom from typhoons and hurricanes
Solar radiation: 18 – 36 MJ/m2 (Total annual: 6350 MJ/m2)
Rainfall: 1100 to 1500 mm/annum
Relative humidity: 55 to 80%
Optimum ambient temperature: 14 to 35°C

Soil suitability: Fertile, deep (up to 1.5 m), well drained and aerated soil (air-filled porosity: 10 – 12%), loamy to clayey in texture
Bulk density: 1.1 to 1.4 Mg/m3
Moderate topography (1 to 3º)
Optimum soil pH: 6.5 (range: 5 to 8.5)
Available water holding capacity: 150 mm/m depth of soil
Groundwater table: Below 1.5 to 2 m
Critical soil salinity level (ECe): Below 1.7 dS/m above which yield decreases
Soil to avoid: Waterlogged, alkaline and saline soils

Land preparation

Clod free seedbed with good tilth to express its cane yield potential, SDI installation & optimal soil water air relations.Destroy the hard pan if any using either chisel plough or a subsoiler.Primary tillage by mould board plough or disc plough and secondary tillage by disc harrows, tyned harrows or rotavator to achieve proper tilth.Compost: 25 – 30 tons/ha

Planting material
Vegetative propagation
Healthy two-bud or three-bud setts

Planting pattern
Paired or dual row system

1.4 m + 0.4 m, 0.15 m
Optimum plant density – 130,000 millable canes/ha at harvest

Seeding rates
Two bud setts – 40,000/ha or three bud setts – 30,000/ha
Seeding depth – 10 cm below the soil

Weed control
Managing weeds is critical for successful sugarcane production since they compete for light, water, nutrients, etc. and reduce cane yields by 12 to 72% depending on the weed intensity.

Critical crop weed competition period is initial 90 – 120 days.

Integrated weed control program involving crop rotation, manual weeding, good seedbed preparation, maintenance of optimum plant population, mechanical inter-cultivation and herbicide chemical applications.

Recommended pre-mergence herbicides:
Lasso 48 EC 3.0 – 4.0 L/ha
Stomp 50 EC 1.5 L/ha
Atrazine 50 FW 3 – 4 L/ha
Diuron 80 WP 2.0 – 2.5 kg/ha
Ametryn 80 WP 2.5 – 3.0 kg/ha

Recommended post-emergence herbicides:
Ametryn 80 WP 2.5 – 3.0 kg/ha
Sencor 70 WP 2.5 – 3.0 kg/ha
MSMA 72 SC 4.0 L/ha

Irrigation system
Drip version – Surface or subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) combined with fertigation. Fertigation is the application of plant nutrients through an irrigation system, also known as NutrigationTM.

Drip product – DripNet PC, Super typhoon, DLN 17009.
Dripline spacing – 1.8 m with one lateral per two crop rows.
Emitter spacing – 0.30 m to 0.50 m depending on soil texture.
Emitter flow rate – 1.0 LPH, 1.6 LPH and 2.0 LPH depending on soil texture.
Dripline installation depth in SDI – 0.15 m to 0.3 m

Crop water requirement & irrigation scheduling
Estimate crop water requirements as a product of daily reference crop evapotranspiration by Penman-Monteith method and crop coefficient for a given day according to the plant developmental stages.

Begin with 0.4 Kc of daily ETo in the initial period, raise it to 0.7 to 1.05 at tillering and canopy establishment phase, 1.2 at grand growth period and decrease it 1.15 to 0.95 to 0.7 at ripening and maturity period of sugarcane.

Peak crop water requirement: 6 – 7 mm/day in India & South Africa and 4 – 5 mm/day in Brazil.
Seasonal crop water requirement: 1100 to 1500mm under drip irrigation for range of environments.

Scheduling irrigation's when tensiometers installed at 20cm soil depth register 15 – 25 centibars of soil moisture tension at tillering and grand growth period - 60 centibars at ripening period maximizes cane and sucrose yield.

Apply mineral fertilizers based on the targeted cane yield, leaf nutrient analysis, results of fertilizer experiment, leaf deficiency symptoms, nutrient uptake, soil nutrient analysis, and nutrient recycling.

Nutrient uptake per ton of cane yield:

  • 0.7 – 1.2 kg N
  • 0.4 – 0.8 kg P2O5
  • 1.8 – 2.5 kg K2O

Optimum leaf nutrient levels are:

  • 1.9 – 2.% N
  • 0.2 – 0.24% P
  • 1.1 – 1.3% K
  • 0.2 – 0.3% Mg
  • 0.8 – 1.0% Ca
  • 0.25 – 0.30% S
  • 9 – 30 ppm B
  • 8 – 10 ppm Cu
  • 100 – 250 ppm Mn
  • 200 – 500 ppm Fe
  • 25 – 50 ppm Zn

Recommended nutrient dose per hectare (under range of environments):
250 – 300kg N + 80 to 100kg P2O5+ 125 to 250kg K2O

For fertigation use only water soluble fertilizers such as:
urea (46% N)
potassium nitrate (13% N & 46% K2O)
monoammonium phosphate (12% N & 61% P2O5)
ammonium nitrate (34% N)

Earthing-up operation, also known as ‘hilling-up’, refers to placing of the soil around the plants and is carried out in two or three stages during sugarcane crop growing period.

Earthing-up checks late tillering, provides sufficient soil volume for root proliferation, controls weeds, promotes better soil aeration and provides a sound anchorage or support to the crop and thus prevents lodging.

The first earthing-up, also known as ‘partial earthing-up’, is done 45 days after planting. The second earthing-up and/ or third one is known as ‘full earthing-up’ and is done 120 & 180 days after planting, respectively.

De trashing
De trashing refers to the removal of unwanted bottom unproductive dry and green leaves at regular intervals. The reason for de trashing is to make more photosynthates available for stalk growth, enable CO2 enrichment in the crop canopy, reduce pests incidence & bud sprouting; and facilitate easy harvesting of cane.

Propping refers to the tying of leaves together using the bottom and middle level green leaves. Trash is twisted to form a sort of rope and cane stalks are tied together, without removing any trash from the cane. Propping is done to check lodging and damage to cane due to high wind velocities. Propping can be done for each row or for two rows that are brought together and tied.

Pests and diseases
Important pests include early shoot borer, inter-node borer, root borer, root grub, thrips, woolly aphids, scale insects, termites, wire worm, white flies, black bug, etc.

Important diseases include red rot, whip smut, pineapple disease, wilt, ratoon stunting disease, grassy shoot disease, yellow leaf spot, eye spot, ring spot, etc.

Detect outbreaks and identify problem areas by routine patrols. Monitor economic threshold levels and take up appropriate plant protection measures.

Harvesting management

Harvesting of sugarcane at peak maturity by adopting right technique is necessary to realize maximum weight of the millable canes (thus sugar) with least possible field losses under the given growing environment.Avoiding cutting of either over-matured or under-matured cane.Use standard criteria such as crop age, visual symptoms (drying of leaves and metallic sound of cane), quality parameters (juice Brix, pol or sucrose percentage and purity), etc. for determining cane ripening and maturity.Cut the cane to ground level so that the bottom sugar rich internodes are harvested which add to yield and sugar.Detop the cane and clean it properly before transporting it the sugar mill.Avoid delay in the field after harvest and quickly dispose the harvested cane to sugar mill or bio-refinery.

Cane yield
Under drip irrigation and fertigation a good commercial cane yield should be 140 – 160 tons/ha depending on agro climatic conditions, length of growing season and variety.
Water utilization efficiency varies between 15 – 20 kg/m3.


How much a drip irrigation system costs per hectare of sugarcane?
This is very variable and depends on the following three factors:
Conveyance of water from source to the field: normally this is the most expensive component of the irrigation system. It depends on the distance and elevation the water has to be conveyed by the pipelines.
Peak crop water demand: Amount of water needed to apply to meet the peak crop evapotranspiration requirements during the crop peak demand. This is a function of prevailing climate conditions, crop canopy cover and efficiency of the irrigation system.
Other considerations: The land topography of the design area - whether flat or undulated and the soil texture which determines the emitter spacing. For example, sugarcane on sandy soils require closer emitter spacing while clayey soil require wider emitter spacing that will have a significant impact on the system cost per unit area.
Why choose drip and not others irrigation methods "apparently" less expensive?
Since the drip technology was invented by Netafim in 1965, it proved itself to be technically feasible and economically viable under a large range of environments and crops, to include sugarcane. Drip was found to increase cane yields and number of ratoons as well as to improve the sucrose.
Drip technology also allows significant saving in water, fertilizers, labor and energy required for pumping water. In the long run, economic calculations show that drip is the most suitable system for modern sugarcane agriculture with higher economic returns.
What should I do to guarantee the success of a drip sugarcane project?
The success of the sugarcane project depends on few crucial factors: Good agriculture practices like proper soil preparation, selecting the most suitable varieties for irrigation and fertilization, planting time, quality planting material, quality drip system components and irrigation design & timely harvesting.
For each project, Netafim provides the most customized solution package depending upon the local farm conditions, climate and management level of the customer that obviously differs from one project to the other.
As a sugarcane grower, should I use subsurface or surface drip system?
Subsurface drip irrigation has shown to have many agro-technical advantages for sugarcane growers, besides the regular drip features. There is no need to recollect the drip line before every harvest cycle, the drip lines are protected from agro-machinery damage, it permits using a thin wall drip line that significantly effect the cost and it applies the water and the fertilizers directly to the sugarcane root zone. Finally, the grower can apply all the crop agro-machinery activities without interfering with the day to day irrigation system protocols.
What is the life of the drip system for sugarcane and after how many years I have to renew it?
The accumulated field experience revealed that sugarcane raised under subsurface drip irrigation system can continue up to eight and/or more ratoons before field is renewed for a new crop cycle.
During the renewal of the field for new plant crop all the hydraulics such as pipes, pump, filters, etc., remain intact on the field for further use and only the drip line must be replaced. This fact represents around 50% of the total system cost per unit area.

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