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Germinated single-bud setts in pots: a way to improve ecological resilience at planting

Poser C., Chabanne A., Martin J., Gueno J.M., Ribotte J.C., Tumoine L., Le Bras J., Christina M., Goebel F.R.. 2018. Saint Gilles : ISSCT, p. 17-17. ISSCT Agricultural Engineering, Agronomy and Extension Workshop : ¿"Farming for the future: improving productivity and ecological resilience in sugarcane production systems". 3, 2018-09-23/2018-09-28, Saint Gilles (Réunion).

In order to increase the area of sugarcane production, planting techniques should ensure uniform crop emergence and control of weeds at reasonable cost. Experiments using single- bud setts have been conducted in several countries (Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Egypt). In this poster, we present the advantages of planting germinated single-bud setts grown in pots into a cover crop with the aim of reducing soil tillage and herbicide usage in an agro- ecological approach to sugarcane production. Two trials were carried out to assess the effectiveness of germinated single-bud setts compared with traditional planting of three-bud setts. This included i) the quantity of planting material, yield and components thereof, and ii) the use of herbicide. In the first trial, the weights and number of tillers per plant were measured at 11 months after planting. In the second trial, germinated single-bud setts were planted into plant cover originating from a succession of a planted mixture of Crotaleria juncea and Mucuna, and Avena sativa. Tillering, stalk elongation and yields (plant and ratoon) were compared with those of traditionally planted cane in single rows. Time and herbicide inputs were quantified. In the first trial, both yields and number of nodes per stalk were similar for the germinated single-bud setts and the traditionally planted cane, but the number of stalks was significantly higher (8%) for the germinated single-bud setts. The average multiplication rate of the single- bud setts was 1:99 at 11 months. In the second trial, the number of tillers was again 8 % higher for the single-bud setts. There was no significant differences in stalk elongation and yields. In ratoon cane, no significant differences were observed. From an economic point of view, a saving of more than 80% of buds was achieved at planting. However, the increased labor requirement generated additional costs. Planting germinated single-bud setts into mulch resulted in reduced herbicide applications and erosion risks. Our study highlighted planting of germinated single-bud setts (in pots) into mulch as a reliable and affordable technique. In terms of the planting operation and yields, it is comparable with conventional planting techniques and can reduce soil tillage and the use of herbicides. Theoretically this technique reduces the risk of erosion while favoring water retention and increased functional biodiversity. It gives the advantage of complete and homogeneous emergence, as well as the possibility of bringing complementary nutrients in the pot near to the roots. Nevertheless, for Reunion Island conditions, progress still needs to be made in terms of acclimatization and mechanical transplantation of young plants.

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