Looking to increase profitability, sugarcane farmers are always after higher yields, higher sucrose content, extended ratoon life, and lower operational costs.

That’s why, for more than 30 years, they’ve been switching to drip irrigation.


Why choose subsurface drip irrigation for sugarcane?

More tons per hectare

  • Grow more cane
    Average yields with drip irrigation are up to 50% higher when compared to sprinkler systems or flood irrigation, and up to 200% higher than rain-fed plantations
  • Extend ratoon life
    Optimal delivery of both water and nutrients reduces plant stress and significantly extends ratoon life, giving you an average of 8 to 10 cuts
  • Increase sucrose content
    Drip irrigation can increase sucrose content by up to 2% when compared to flood irrigated or rain-fed plantations

Optimize resources

  • Achieve 100% land utilization
    Drip irrigates uniformly, even in the face of odd shape fields or slopes, unlike pivots which leave “dead” corners
  • Produce more cane per m3 water
    Drip irrigation delivers water directly to the root zone, preventing evaporation and runoff, so 100% of your water is used for producing cane
  • Minimize labor costs
    Since drip irrigation systems can be operated remotely, they require less investment in labor when compared to portable sprinkler systems or flood irrigation
  • Optimize fertilizer application
    Fertigation through subsurface drip places your fertilizer exactly where it’s needed, at precisely the right time, avoiding loss to leaching or excessive application




And much more. See how it works.

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Things we often get asked:

  • Why should I choose drip irrigation over furrow irrigation for my sugarcane crop?

    Drip irrigation is proven to deliver up to 50% higher yields than furrow irrigation because sugarcane plants can achieve their full genetic potential when given constantly available water and nutrients. Switching from furrow to drip not only produces more, but also reduces water usage by up to 50%. In addition, drip systems work perfectly on any slope and irrigate the crop uniformly. Drip is also the ideal delivery solution for fertilizers. With precision fertigation, you minimize fertilizer application costs and increase the efficiency of every resource you have.

  • Why should I choose drip irrigation over center pivot irrigation for my sugarcane crop?

    Drip irrigation is proven to deliver up to 30% higher yields than center pivot irrigation using the exact same amount of water. Since pivots spray water on the leaves, much of it is lost to evaporation, whereas with drip, 100% of your water is used to produce more cane. In addition, subsurface drip systems irrigate 100% of your field, while a center pivot leaves 21% of your crop unirrigated.

    Drip is also the ideal delivery solution for fertilizers. With precision fertigation, you minimize fertilizer application costs and increase the efficiency of every resource you have. In sandy soils, drip enables you to irrigate every day if needed, which is not the case with center pivot.

  • If I have a lot of rainfall, will drip still be a good investment?

    Definitely. While having ample rainfall is obviously a huge advantage, rain is never timely enough or consistent enough to allow the crop to reach its full yield potential. This is even more evident with sandy soils that have a lower water holding capacity. Moreover, drip is also a nutrient delivery system that allows you to fertigate and control the nutrient levels in your soil in a precise and economical way. Applying all of your fertilizer in just a few applications can be wasteful, especially under rainy conditions that provoke leaching. Splitting your nutrient application throughout the season guarantees that your sugarcane plants get what they need when they need it. This is what makes drip systems the perfect tool for increasing productivity in previously rain-fed plots.

  • What if I have uneven topography or an irregularly shaped field?

    Drip irrigation fits all plot shapes and sizes, all soil types, and all topographies. You can use pressure compensating drip lines that maintain the same flow rate across different pressure levels, so that every plant in the field gets exactly the same amount of water and nutrients, regardless of elevation changes or distance from the water source.

  • Is subsurface drip irrigation a new practice for sugarcane?

    For over 30 years, top growers have been adopting drip irrigation in their cane fields. Many of the biggest players in Africa, Brazil and Central America have transitioned hundreds of thousands of hectares to drip. Every year, Netafim installs over 25,000 additional hectares of subsurface drip irrigation in sugarcane fields globally.

  • Can my sugarcane field be irrigated remotely?

    Yes. Precision irrigation is easily combined with remote control and automation to make your irrigation more efficient, giving you immediate access from your cell phone, tablet or computer. Read more about digital farming.

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The next 50 years of farming won't be like the last 50. The agricultural system that served us until now needs to change. Growers need more control. We're farmers and innovators committed to bringing innovation to Africa, evolving together with our customers.