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Agronomy

Direct planting of sugarcane

Sugarcane cultivation directly on husks has been used for 15 years in Ribeirão Preto. The unprecedented experiment is being conducted by the Agronomy Institute (IAC) in Campinas and the São Paulo Agency for Agribusiness Technology (APTA) of the São Paulo State Secretary of Agriculture and Supply. According to this system, after harvesting, the cane sprouts again, starting a new crop cycle. This is different from what currently occurs in a commercial plantation, in which the field is replanted. Among the advantages are an up to 10 metric tons per hectare (t/ha) increase in productivity and a 28% to 40% reduction in production costs. The largest share of the savings for the grower comes from the 72% reduction in costs for diesel fuel per hectare compared to the costs involved in annual replanting. The researchers also calculated that direct planting makes cane cultivation more sustainable from an environmental standpoint. This is because the amount of carbon sequestered from the atmosphere in the conventional method is 0.67 t/ha per year, while it is 1.6 ton/ha annually with direct planting. Rates increase because there is no need to prepare the soil in the direct planting system, thus preserving biomass and roots. This aspect also favors water penetration and reduces soil erosion.

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