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Sugarcane–Sugarbeet Intercropping Augments Cumulative Crop/Sugar Production and Financial Turnovers Under Enhanced Fertilization

Ullah, Sami, Khan, EjazAhmad, Jilani, Ghulam, Panhwar, Mahjabeen, Shakoor, Noman
Sugar tech 2018 v.20 no.4 pp. 431-438
NPK fertilizers, beets, canes, costs and returns, crop yield, farmers, fertilizer rates, intercropping, nitrogen, phosphorus, planting, potassium, production technology, sugar beet, sugarcane, sugars
Sugarcane and sugarbeet farmers experience lower strip cane and beet root yields, respectively, and need to have a comprehensive package of production technology. The current field study evaluated the production and economic prospects of sugarcane–sugarbeet intercropping through enhanced fertilizer dosage for 2 years. Sugarcane variety “HSF-240” and sugarbeet variety “Antak” were grown. Experiment was performed in randomized complete block design with two-factorial arrangement, and it was quadruplicated. Factor-1 treatments in main plots comprised of sole cultivation of sugarcane and sugarbeet as well as intercropping of both. Sugarbeet was intercropped with sugarcane on 90-cm-spaced rows. Factor-2 in subplots included various fertilizer (F) rates equally that of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) as N–P₂O₅–K₂O, viz. F₀, F₁₀₀, F₁₅₀, F₂₀₀, F₂₅₀ and F₃₀₀, representing 0, 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300 kg ha⁻¹, respectively. Data regarding crop yield attributes (millable canes and beets per m², weight of stripped cane and beet root), yield of crops and sugar production rendered non-significant difference between intercropping and sole cultivation system of sugarcane and sugarbeet; although there were slightly higher values for sole planting. Number of millable canes and beets per m², weight per stripped cane and beet root, stripped cane and beet yield, and sugar recovery and yield significantly enhanced with each increment of NPK level. The most appropriate dose of NPK was 250 kg ha⁻¹ with respect to crop and sugar production as well as for maximum economic returns from sugarcane as higher NPK dose 300 kg ha⁻¹ did not had further significant positive effect. However, single root weight, crop and sugar yield of sugarbeet were significantly higher with 300 kg NPK ha⁻¹ as compared to that from 250 kg NPK ha⁻¹ both under sole and intercropping plantation system. Sugarcane–sugarbeet intercropping turns superior to traditional sole cultivation system under enhanced plant nutrient dosage up to 250 kg NPK ha⁻¹, whereas further increase in fertilizer dose reduces the economic returns. Beyond this level of NPK fertilizer, the purity of sugar and its recovery could become deteriorated.