Comparative analysis of different tillage systems used in sugarcane (Thailand)
In order to reduce the impact of decreasing profit margins in crop production systems, all possible options that will increase net profits need to be explored. Land preparation and stool removal in sugarcane production can be a major contributor to overall production costs. Since estimates that mechanization can contribute as much as 50% of the total production costs, considerable savings can potentially be made if the number of tillage operations is reduced. Such savings however, have to be offset against other costs associated with minimum or no-tillage systems, such as the increased need for herbicide. In addition, conventional tillage systems have been implicated in yield decline over the long-term and therefore yield benefits are envisaged, together with cost savings, by the adoption of minimum and no-tillage sugarcane production. A comparative analysis of five sugarcane tillage systems using data from eight years, showed that minimum tillage, with mechanical stool removal and machine planting gave the best economic returns, being 29.3 and 39.4% more profitable than the conventional and no-tillage treatments, respectively. Other minimum tillage treatments, with sub-soiling and machine / manual planting combinations also performed well. Whilst the no-tillage treatment made substantial savings from the non-use of machinery, these were offset to a large degree by the extra costs associated with herbicide use and extra labour requirements.
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