Sugarcane is one of the extensively cultivated crops in India. Sugarcane farmers are always in the pursuit of higher crop yields, increased profitability, higher sucrose content, and an extended ratoon life, and reduced operational costs. Drip irrigation works as a solution here, which is why sugarcane farmers have been upgrading their farms to drip irrigation.
Sugarcane yield has a strong reaction towards temperature, solar radiation and soil conditions. However, in an open farm field, temperature and radiation are beyond human control. Here, drip irrigation plays an instrumental role as it controls every drop of water and nutrient going to the crop, and that too at the right time, to result in higher amount and quality of yield, along with higher sucrose content and extended plant life.
Netafim’s Subsurface Drip Irrigation helps grow sugarcane yield through the supply of nutrients and water directly to the crop root, and in the required quantities and when required. SDI involves application of water with the help of emitters turned on the inner wall of the drip line. The typical discharge rate is 1.0 – 3.0 LPH, which is usually similar to the surface irrigation. SDI helps save water, promotes efficient use and application of fertilizers and pesticides, improves soil aeration, and keeps maintenance costs on the lower side. This results in increased crop yield, enhanced crop quality and an average of 4-5 ratoons. SDI works with every soil type, topographies, and climate. This helps maintain soil moisture and nutrient levels, regardless of the soil or climate conditions.
Through automation, you can remotely monitor, optimize, and irrigate your cane and get all the information associated with your field. Regardless, of wherever you are, you can ensure higher crop yield, better crop quality, and higher profits, along with reduced labour costs.
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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