Sugarcane in India

(Articles & Reading)

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.

Key words: Cane yield, crop ETc, drip irrigation, fertigation, fertilizer use efficiency (FUE), gravity irrigation, irrigation efficiency, sugarcane, water use efficiency (WUE)

Geographic terms: India, Maharashtra

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