A new technique in sugarcane production promises to be a most timely development as it could tremendously increase yields, especially at this time when some of the local harvests will have to go into the production of biofuel.
The technique is subsurface drip irrigation. It is not really new because it is now being done in India but it is something very new in the Philippines. For the first time in the country, the technology is being used on 12.64 hectares at the Gamboa Hermanos Multi-Purpose Cooperative Farm in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. The sugarcane farm has a total area of 1,200 hectares.
Both the managers of the farm as well as the supplier of the subsurface drip system, Netafim of Israel, are very excited about the superior stand of the sugarcane crop in the demonstration farm. At the age of only five months, the canes already weigh two kilos each, according to Ted de la Torre, the agriculturist in charge of the subsurface-irrigated crop. At this early stage, if the canes are to be harvested at the end of the fifth month, the possible yield was computed at 199 tons cane per hectare. That’s about double the usual yield of sugarcane grown under the conventional system using overhead sprinklers for irrigation. Surely, the yield could still increase tremendously since the plants still have another five or six months before harvest.