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An Expert System for Disorder Diagnosis in Sugarcane Crop


Sugarcane Production Scenario in India

Sugarcane occupies an important position in agrarian economy of India. About 5 million farmers and agricultural labourers are involved in cane cultivation. Besides, more than half a million skilled and semi skilled workers, mostly from rural areas are engaged in the sugar industry, the second largest agro processing industry of India. The area under sugarcane is hovering around 4.5 million hectares and with an average productivity of 68 tonnes/ha. The highest production of 355 million tonnes of cane has been achieved during 2006-07 crop season from 5.15 million hectares. On an average, 60 per cent of the total cane produced in the country is being utilized for white sugar production, 15-20 per cent is utilized for gur and khandsari production and rest is utilized for other purposes including seed.

At present, 115 countries of the world cultivate sugarcane for sugar production and produce about 133 million tonnes of sugar which is three fourth of the total sugar production (169 million tonnes) of the world.

Sugarcane thus occupies a very prominent position on the agricultural map of India covering large area in sub-tropics and tropics. It is the sole raw material for the largest agro-processing sugar industry in the rural sector. During 2011-12, about 529 sugar mills working in the country crushed 256.98 million tonnes sugarcane and produced 26.343 million tonnes sugar with average recovery of 10.25% in the country. The industry pays about Rs.39,000 crores annually to the growers for the cane they supply and contributes Rs. 2,200 crores to the central exchequer, besides contributing Rs.1100 crores to the State exchequer.

Sugarcane production system

In India, more than 5.0 million farmers are engaged in sugarcane cultivation and majority of them are small a marginal with small land holders. More than 50 per cent of the total cane area is comprised of holdings between 0.5 to 5 ha, for 20.7 per cent of the area, holding size ranges between 5 to 10 ha. Sugarcane based cropping systems in India by virtue or practicing cane agriculture by large nos. of marginal & small farmers, the system of sugarcane production is largely diversified cale the need of cane farming family for cereals, pulses, oilseeds etc.  generally of 3-4 years duration. The plant crop of sugarcane is invariably followed by one or two ratoon crops. However, the crop preceding sugarcane and succeeding its ratoon crop varies as per agro-climatic conditions and socio-economic situations. Sugarcane based production systems are well integrated with rice-wheat and rice based cropping systems. The major sugarcane based cropping systems are: Rice-wheat/mustard-sugarcane plant-first ratoon wheat (rice-wheat-sugarcane) and Maize-wheat-sugarcane plant-first ratoon wheat (sugarcane-wheat) in UP, Cotton-sugarcane plant - first ratoon - sorghum in Maharashtra, groundnut-sugarcane in Gujarat and Rice-sugarcane plant - first ratoon (sugarcane-rice) in Western and South India. Majority of the crops in the sugarcane based cropping systems are exhaustive in terms of nutrients uptake from soil and the pulses/ green manure crops, which can ameliorate the soil health by adding nutrients, is largely missing in the system. Sugarcane fits well into the predominant rice-wheat cropping system of the Indo-Gangetic plains and in the absence of sizable extent of leguminous crops in this system, sugarcane seems to be behaving like a leguminous crop in maintaining the soil bio-physical properties. At the same time sugarcane based cropping systems outperform other cropping systems in terms of infrastructure and socio-economic development indicators; such as the value of agricultural output per ha compared to other cropping systems.

In sugarcane, ratoons occupy a sizable proportion of the total area under cane cultivation, and it is evidently clear from the estimate that about 50% of cane area in sub-tropical states like Uttar Pradesh in under ratoon. The major advantage of ratoons lies in its early maturity, lower cost of cultivation and high sugar recovery during early period of crushing. The contribution of ratoon to total cane production is around 30% only, as low ratoon yield is achieved due to several factors like poor ratoonasility of grown variety, poor crop stand due to gaps, low level of inputs applied and poor level of management. The other micro reasons includes formation of toxic substances in the rhizosphere, upward shifting of root system, lesser physiological capacity for nutrient uptake, and decline in the soil nutrient status etc. The ratoon management involves stubble shaving, gap filling, additional nutrient supplementation, biochemical manipulation using growth regulators and mulching etc. Better ratooning ability can be achieved by scheduling the varieties with minimum rate of yield decline in successive ratooning as against a plant crop, use of thin and medium thick varieties as against thicker varieties. Deep rooted drought tolerant varieties possess better ratooning potential. Varieties with early and profuse tillering, less tiller mortality and high shoot population are the characters associated with better ratooning. Organic manuring also increase the cane yield and juice quality in multiple ratoons.


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