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Organic sugarcane cultivation in Tahiti

Vitrac M., Teai T., Goebel F.R., Shilitouzi I.. 2018. Agrofor International Journal, 3 (3) : p. 31-38.

Organic sugarcane has a strong economic potential in Tahiti. However, there is no model for small-scale organic cultivation, and the rules enforced by the applicable standards don't always respect the agroecological principles. To determine whether a small organic sugarcane farming system is profitable or not, especially in terms of productivity, control of bioagressors (weeds, rats and pests) and human resource costs, a 1ha field of sugarcane was planted in 2015, with nine different varieties, in a machineable context under European organic standards. After two years, the cultivars used showed yields from 40 up to 100 tons/ha of cane. Regarding the control of bioagressors results were the following: 1) manual removing of weeds required 4 to 6 months after planting or after the first ratoon; 2) study of rat attacks during the maturation period showed that in a dirty field, for early varieties (18° Brix at ten months of cultivation), the cane stalks can be entirely damaged, and these attacks can even occur on canes with sugar content lower than 10%. Finally, the hand labor hoeing represented around 75% of the production costs. This result demonstrates that such organic cultivation is possible even when facing pest and weed problems. In further investigations, to improve hand labor efficiency, we will first focus on weed control using small mechanized treatments; secondly, we will aim at reducing rat infestations by the use of some unique early maturated varieties to attract and treat them locally.

Mots-clés : agriculture biologique; rendement des cultures; variété; agroécologie; canne à sucre; polynésie française

Thématique : Culture des plantes; Génétique et amélioration des plantes

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