October 26, 2021 7:40:57 am
As there is a shortage of expert labourers in sugarcane cultivation, the sugarcane growers do not get the potential yield per hectare. Keeping this in mind, the cane department has introduced a sugarcane nursery transplanter which will provide relief to the cane growers in terms of labour cost and input cost and increase the yield by 20% to 25%.
With these nursery transplanters, 4,000 to 6,400 single-bud nursery plants are required to be sown in one-acre field which adds up to 5 to 7 quintals against around 35 quintals of buds in the traditional method. If the row-to-row and plant-to-plant difference is 5 feet and two feet respectively, then 4,000 young plants are required and if it is 4×2 (row-to-row 4 feet and plant-to-plant 2 feet) then 6,400 nursery plants are required. “The seed costs around Rs 360 per kg which goes up to around Rs 12,600 per acre in traditional methods and Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,520 per acre,” said an expert.
Sugarcane is a C4 plant like maize, and sorghum which needs more air and light to grow a plant in a healthy way. With this transplanter, where there is proper plant-to-plant and row-to-row difference, the thickness and height of the cane would be at its maximum level which will give more yield because when a cane is more thick and long, its weight would also be more.
Assistant Sugarcane Development Officer, Gurdaspur, Dr Arvinder Pal Singh said that transplanting of a cane nursery in one acre by labourers costs about Rs 6,000 and the distance from plant to plant is not uniform. But with the transplanter, the cost comes down to Rs 3,000.
He said keeping in view the increased risk of disease to the popular C-0238 variety, new varieties can be transplanted with this machine. It can also be used in sowing vegetable nursery in the field.
Dr Amrik Singh, assistant cane commissioner, Gurdaspur, said that “for the first time in Punjab, the department has started experiments and the results are expected to be very encouraging. The labourers work as per their wish and hardly go for uniform cultivation or recommendation of the department which affects the yield but with this machine, there would be uniform cultivation. Intercropping of oilseeds, wheat and pulses can be done on vacant space (row-to-row difference) which can also enhance farmers’ income. The life of cane crop is a year and it starts gaining main height after 5-6 months. By that time other crops are matured.”
“This planter also solves the first irrigation process to the plants, which need irrigation immediately after sowing, as the cultivator has an attached water tank which sprinkles water at the time of sowing,’’ he added.
“The cultivator can sow seven acres in a day and its uniform sowing provides enough space to the air in the field as well as for intercropping,” he said.
“Efforts are being made by the sugarcane wing, department of agriculture and farmers welfare, Punjab, Gurdaspur Cooperative Sugar Mills and private sector to mechanise sugarcane cultivation,” said Gurwinder Singh Khalsa, Cane Commissioner, Punjab. Dr Gurwinder Singh said that on the demand of sugarcane cultivators, subsidy would also be given on the machinery used in sugarcane cultivation from next year.
Due to high cost of agricultural machinery, this machine should be procured in groups and even sugarmills can purchase these machines and supply to the farmers on reasonable rents.
He said that with this cultivation, they are expecting that per acre yield of cane may increase 100 to 150 quintals as currently the yield is around 350 to 400 quintal per acre which may go up to 500 to 600 quintals per acre.
The machine was launched by Mahindra and Mahindra and costs around Rs 3.50 lakh.
Progressive farmer Ranyodh Singh said that the machine provided by the department seems to be helpful in sowing sugarcane. Other cane growers, including Navdeep Singh, Karamjit Singh Bajwa, Ranjit Singh and Ashok Kumar, expressed their willingness to sow their cane with this planter in the coming season in February-March. In Punjab, cane is planted in two seasons — autumn and spring — in the state and main sowing around 80% takes place in spring. Currently, around 95,000 hectare area is under cane crop in the state.
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