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Home > Agronomic Practices > Land Preparation
Land Preparation

For higher sugarcane yields, providing optimum soil environment is an essential pre-requisite since the crop remains in the field for about 5 to 6 years due to the practice of raising several ratoon crops.

 

 Good Land Preparation

 Improper Land Preparation

 

Further intense mechanization involving traffic of heavy machinery from planting to harvesting and transporting to the sugar mill or distillery, can cause the deterioration of soil physical conditions. This translates into soil compaction with a cohort of harmful side effects viz., reduction in storage & movement of air and water, mechanical difficulty for root growth and difficulty in absorption of nutrients from the soil itself and from the fertilizer.

 

Therefore a through land preparation every time a new crop is planted is absolutely essential to bring the soil to fine tilth for proper germination of the sets and field emergence and root growth.

 

Tillage is the physical manipulation of the soil with appropriate implements to loosen the surface soil layer.

 

Objectives of Land Preparation

  • To prepare a seed bed which permits optimal soil water air relations
  • Good physical conditions for early root penetration and proliferation
  • To incorporate preceding crop residues and organic manures
  • To destroy weeds and hibernating pest & disease organisms
  • To facilitate proper soil chemical and microbial activity

 

Tillage operations through tractor drawn implements are most ideal and quick. For initial ploughing use either mould board plough or disc plough. Whenever, soil turning is desired, a mould board plough should be used.

 

On the other hand when the soil is hard, uneven and composed of crop stubbles, a disc plough is preferable. Ploughing at optimum soil moisture content is very essential to achieve tilth. Too wet soil interrupts movement of machinery and causes destruction of soil structure.

 

On the other hand too dry soil will not allow tynes to penetrate deep and results in frequent mechanical breakdowns, increased power requirement and cloddy soil surface affecting soil water air relations.

 

Without Subsoiling

 With Subsoiling

 

The secondary tillage operations are carried out using disc harrows, tyned harrows or rotavator. The rotavator is a very useful multi purpose implement, which cuts the crop residues, shred them and incorporates in the soil in one pass. Use mechanical methods (subsoiling or chiseling or deep ploughing) or biological means (green manuring between last ratoon harvest and start of a new crop) to destroy the compacted layer and to allow roots to develop normally. Subsoiling was also shown to reduce fuel consumption, working time and facilitate optimum plant population.

 

Steps in Land Preparation Involve the Following:

 

  • Subsoiling or chiseling to a depth of 50 to 75 cm to break hard compact sub-pan layer
  • Ploughing to incorporate previous crop's crop residues and organic manures
  • Discing to break clods
  • Land shaping to provide the required gradient for draining excess water during rainy season
  • Field layout - Construct ridges & furrows and shape them. Depth of furrows should be 25 cm. The furrow bottom should be loosened to about 10 cm.
  • Provide drainage channels, which are deeper than the furrows along the field borders as well as within the field at regular intervals. Drainage channels are particularly important in the high rainfall areas to drain the excess water during rainy season.
  • Table 7 summarizes the power requirement and output during land preparation.

 

Table 7. Sugarcane: Power Requirement and Work Ouput for Land Preparation

 

Operation

Power requirement/ha

Output (ha/hr)

kWatts

Diesel (Litres/ha)

Pre-discing

125

18

2.5

Ripping

165

48

0.5

Ploughing

165

24

1.7

Post-discing

125

18

2.5

Land leveling

125

7

3.5

Ridging

70

16

0.5

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