Saint Lucia: an essay that left high productivity
Results of a trial that combined sugarcane varieties with irrigation and fertilization technologies, using the AEPS approach.
Between 2015 and 2016, the Santa Lucía hacienda was the scene of a trial that demonstrated how the union of efforts between growers and researchers leads to practical, safe and profitable innovative processes.
It all started after learning the results of a test of promising varieties carried out by the Research Center at the La Italia farm. Enrique Villegas, sugarcane grower and one of the representatives of the firm Oriente SA, says that as a result of the results obtained, the idea of establishing a trial in Santa Lucía emerged, a farm with historical average productivity of 98 tons of sugarcane per hectare (TCH ).
In mid-2015, it was time to renovate a five-hectare lot, previously sown with CC 85-92 and CC 93-4418, on sandy soils with little water availability.
It began by looking for the varieties that adapted to these conditions, for which Cenicaña had different alternatives, although with little information.
"That was the biggest problem we faced, since we have varieties from the year 99, which have been on the market for more than 10 years, but with insufficient data because we have dedicated ourselves to planting the same four as always," says the grower.
According to the agricultural engineer of the Ximena Granobles Variety Program, based on agroecological zoning, it was proposed to use varieties CC 00-3771, CC 00-3257, CC 01-678 and other reference varieties such as CC 01-1940 and CC 85 -92.
“I analyzed each of these varieties: their tillering, internode length, height and bearing, resistance to diseases. In that analysis I was not convinced by the variety CC 00-3257, but Cenicaña insisted on it for its results in piedmont and because it could be used in sandy cords, "says Enrique Villegas.
More than varieties
But the proper selection of varieties was not enough to guarantee that an area with little water availability offered good productivity.
According to the Variety and Agronomy Programs and the team from the firm Oriente, this was the opportunity to try other technologies, therefore drip fertigation and irrigation systems were designed to make more efficient the conduction and application of the little water available , looking for an increase in productivity.
“For me it was essential that the chosen irrigation system was not only efficient, but low cost. I have a saying: you have to think rich and act poor, ”says the grower.
The results were not delayed. From a historical average of 98 TCH more than 170 TCH were reached: The variety CC 00-3257, which initially generated resistance in the cultivator, produced 176 TCH; and the lowest productivity was 129 TCH with CC 00-3771, since the plot where it was located had a sandy cord.
Without a doubt, what was achieved in Saint Lucia was the result of combining technologies with teamwork.
According to the researcher Armando Campos: “With this experiment we demonstrate that, although the conditions are difficult, in Cenicaña we have technologies that, if used in a combined and adequate way, allow us to improve; Because varieties or an efficient irrigation system can offer us results, but if we use them with the principles of Site Specific Agriculture and incorporate mechanization, fertilization and other tasks into this approach, we will achieve much more. "