Conventional tillage

Different tillage operations are carried out during the renewal process of a cane plantation.

The establishment of sugarcane cultivation in the geographical valley of the Cauca River requires the implementation of field design, adaptation and soil preparation practices in order to provide adequate conditions for optimum seed germination and good crop development It also seeks to facilitate subsequent work during the production cycle such as irrigation and harvest.

Field design

The design of the fields is defined as the layout and specifications of the distribution system for lots and planks, roads for transporting harvested cane, furrows, irrigation and drainage channels and other hydraulic infrastructure. It is mainly aimed at improving the performance of irrigation, drainage and tillage and harvesting equipment. It includes recommendations on length, slope, conformation and spacing of the grooves, irrigation and drainage infrastructure, alley width and plank geometry.

Land adaptation

The adequacy of the fields is defined as the set of tasks destined to establish the optimal topographic conditions for the development of the crop and includes from the topographic survey of the lots, the leveling of the land, the construction of the hydraulic infrastructure of the irrigation systems and drainage and conditioning of the roads for the transport of the cane from the field to the processing plants.

Work that is contemplated within the adaptation of land are:

  • Removal of debris, stones or large logs that prevent the establishment of the crop and that can cause damage to the machinery.
  • Cleaning of plant species present in the field that prevent the planting and development of the cane. The removal of grass coverings, crop socas, stubble with thin-stemmed plants and shrubs, is carried out taking into account the protection of areas near rivers and natural channels so as not to affect the stability of the basins and the water regime of the region.
  • Destruction of cane strains in the case of crop renewals.
  • Leveling The objective of the work is to give the land a slope that allows efficient evacuation of runoff waters and facilitates gravity irrigation. At present, bulldozer and tractor-driven scrapers are used, supported by laser and global positioning systems, the latter allowing them to achieve high precision in the work.

Soil preparation

The objectives of field operations for soil preparation are aimed at providing an appropriate environment for optimum seed germination and good crop development.

Cane seed requires a defined soil-air-water relationship for germination. In the same way, the crop requires adequate conditions of availability of water, aeration, drainage and nutrients for its development. The above can be obtained by controlling the quality of the preparation work, which depends on the texture and moisture content of the soil and the appropriate availability of machinery and farm implements.

The soil preparation work prior to the planting of cane that can be carried out according to the need of each batch are: subsoiling, plowing, raking, furrowing. At present, global positioning systems with real-time signal correction (RTK) are implemented that allow the work of furrowing with high precision favoring the subsequent work of the crop.

Mechanized work in socas

The mechanical work of cultivation in socas aims to reduce the effects of soil compaction caused by machinery during harvest. Compaction affects the soil to a depth between 25 and 30 cm and is more severe during the rainy season.

Experiments carried out by Cenicaña have shown that it is necessary to work the fields harvested in green to alleviate the impact of compaction, incorporate fertilizers into the soil and avoid drastic falls in production. Chronological sequence of cultivation work:

Waste management

The waste should be handled in a timely manner to avoid depressive effects on the germination and production of socas.

Once the cane is harvested it is necessary to proceed to aggravate the waste before the two weeks following the cut. Otherwise, negative effects on the regrowth of the cane are caused. It is ideal to perform the skin between two and three days after harvest.


Subsoiling helps aeration, improves water infiltration and reduces soil compaction; therefore, it allows the rooting of the plant to greater depth.

Integral implements with two arms are used for subsoiling. Each breaker arm is long and narrow with a heavy wedge-shaped tip, which works slightly below the hardened surface of the subsoil, lifting and breaking the ground to the front and to the sides. The best results are obtained when this work is done in the dry season.


The cultivation or cultivation in the cane is done with an implement that consists of two or three short arms that are passed at a depth between 20 and 25 cm through 30 cm separated streets of the planting line. The purpose of this work is to: (1) break the hard surface layers or scabs of the soil; (2) reduce weed invasion; and (3) remove the soil around the plants to favor water infiltration and aeration in the root zone.


The corking in the cane is important in areas with high rainfall and fine textured soils, since it creates a 15-20 cm drop between the bottom of the street and the strains of the plant, which prevents excess water from covering the latter and prevent their regrowth. Additionally, this work facilitates the irrigation by furrows and reduces the damage of the machinery on the strains.

Ditch Maintenance

In order to guarantee an adequate conductivity of the water that will be used in the cultivation of sugarcane, the ditches that are part of the irrigation and drainage system of the field are maintained.


The reseeding consists of planting again strains or stems in the places where the material did not germinate or the plants were lost after cutting.

Although in the cultivation of sugarcane there is no precise norm of when to make the reseeding, it is common to do it when the open spaces without plants in the groove are greater than 1 m, or when the discovered area is greater than 5%. This practice should be done, if possible, within 10 days after germination of 80% of the stem pieces in the groove, although it can be done up to 40 days after planting the material. In socas, reseeding should be done up to 10 days after dispatch, when it is possible to observe the empty spaces within the plantation.

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