The Longevita Approach

A key aim of the sugarcane producer is to improve the year-on-year yield performance of each ratoon and lengthen the life of the cropping cycle.

By so doing, the grower can reduce costs over the life of the cane, minimizing the number of times needed to renew production by replanting a new crop. 

While good soil husbandry, pest, disease and weed control, backed by good harvest management will help, recent trials in Brazil confirm that tailoring and improving the availability of nutrients to each and every ratoon crop has a marked effect on the sugar cane crop cycle. 

Working in association with the University of Sao Paulo and University of Pernambuco, Yara has developed a crop nutrition program that reduces sugar cane yield decline over the life of the crop. It involves three basic components:

1. Improved fertilizer use efficiency through annual use of more active nitrogen and phosphrus forms from YaraMila products than those commonly employed in the crop. 

2. Delivery of a more uniform yield as a result of providing a more uniform distribution of nutrients due to improved product quality across the rooting zone. 

3. Better establishment and early crop vigor through supplying high performance YaraVita micronutrients applied when and where they are needed. Various formulations of YaraMila have been tested. All offer reduced nitrogen loss in green crop production, due to use of nitrate forms of nitrogen and better phosphorus availability through using a mixture of different readily available forms of phosphorus.

Trials with these YaraMila products have increased cane yield by an average of 20% (Figure 55). In a second series of trials, this use of YaraMila NPK’s has been supported by YaraVita Bortrac and Zintrac, to provide even greater crop consistency.

Applied in the furrow to the plant crop and as a foliar application coinciding with regrowth, the boron, zinc and molybdenum have regularly improved root and shoot development leading to better plant vigor, establishment and yield. 

As a result of adopting this Longevita approach, two more harvests are possible over the sugar cane plant and ratoon crop cycle. While cumulative sugar cane yield over five years, using standard farm fertilizer practice totaled 380t/ha, the Longevita approach produced a 530t/ha sugar cane yield from seven harvests, bringing a cost saving of 30% over the life of the cane crop. The trials also show a 6-11t/ha increase in yield from each harvest across the life of the sugar cane crop.