“RICH RETURNS: Natarajan of Vellode has readied his field for the second crop of sugarcane in Erode. —PHOTO: M. GOVARTHAN
A farmer at Vellode has realised bumper yield of one tonne sugarcane in every cent on his 1.3 acre farm owing to adoption of cultivation methods under sustainable sugarcane initiative.
The farmer Natarajan (67) harvested 130 tonnes and earned profit of Rs. 1.3 lakh. The farmer owes the bumper harvest to a combination of factors: application of farmyard manure, cultivation and mulching of green manure (dhaincha), timely rainfall, and spacing between saplings.
Such productivity has not been recorded in any field in the entire state so far, G.R. Muthusamy, Deputy General Manager - Cane, Sakthi Sugars Unit IV, Poondurai Semur, said, adding the extent of harvest after cultivation of the crop under normal flow irrigation was unusual.
The sugar unit supplied saplings of tissue cultured seedlings that were free of bacterial and viral diseases. The farmer could not only save one month by planting the saplings - the duration taken for growth of saplings after planting of sets - there was also substantial savings in terms of the cost that would have otherwise been incurred towards labour and irrigation.
Each individual cane in a clump weighed about three kg. The length of an individual cane rose up to 18 feet and there were 30 nodes, Mr. Muthusamy said. Normally, 5,000 to 6,000 saplings are planted per acre with spacing of 2.5 feet. Mr. Nagarajan said he had left a spacing of four feet, and that the better sunlight and air passage resulted in heavy tillering of canes with good girth.
Sugarcane farmers in Modakurichi area have been visiting the field to study the methodology for increasing productivity ever since the harvest was made earlier this month. Since ratooning has been carried out, the farmer has to bear the cost of fertilizers, irrigation and labour alone, and the returns are bound to be more in the coming years.
According to Mr. Muthusamy, as many as 500 farmers with combined holdings of up to 1,500 acres are currently following SSI methodology. Under the system, the trash is shredded and converted into decomposable manure. A major advantage is that the trash will cover the field as a blanket with high water retention capacity and prevent damage to the field from Early Shoot Borer pest. Also, there will be no weed growth, Mr. Muthusamy said.